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The Weathervanes Of Old London

March 30, 2020
by the gentle author

There is no more magical sight to glimpse in a London street on a bright spring morning than that of a gilded weathervane, glinting in sunlight high above the rooftops. At once – in spite of all the changes that time has wrought – you know you are sharing in a visual delight enjoyed by three centuries of Londoners before you and it makes your heart leap.

Consequently, I am grateful to Angelo Hornak who photographed this gallery of magnificent weathervanes for his book AFTER THE FIRE, London Churches in the Age of Wren, Hawksmoor & Gibbs published by Pimpernel Press.

Spire of St Mary-Le-Bow, Cheapside, by Christopher Wren

Dragon upon St Mary-Le-Bow, representing the City of London

Arrow & pennant on St Augustine, Watling St

Spire of St Bride’s Fleet St by Christopher Wren

Gridiron on St Lawrence Jewry, symbol of the martyrdom of St Lawrence

Weathervane on St Magnus the Martyr by Christopher Wren

Weathervane on St Michael Paternoster Royal, College St

Galleon on St Nicholas Cole Abbey, moved from St Michael Queenhithe after demolition

Weathervane on St James Garlickhythe

Crown on St Edmund King & Martyr, Lombard St

Key on the Tower of St Peter Cornhill

Cockerell on St Dunstan-in-the-East by Christopher Wren

Comet on St Mary-Le-Strand

Spire of St Martin in the Fields by James Gibbs

Square-rigged ship on St Olave Old Jewry

Flaming red-eyed dragon on St Luke, Old St, described as a flea in popular lore

Weathervane on St Stephen Walbrook by Nicholas Hawksmoor

‘Flame’ on the top of the Monument by Christopher Wren

Photographs copyright © Angelo Hornak

You may also like to take a look at

The City Churches of Old London

The Signs of Old London

18 Responses leave one →
  1. March 30, 2020

    Oh! How marvellous to see these wonderful designs up close: their delicacy and ancient patina is very moving.

  2. March 30, 2020


  3. P Johnson permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Interesting .
    On a hot day do they perspire?

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Wonderful close-ups of the weathervanes which all have a story to tell.

    I’m really missing being able to wander the streets of London looking at all the different architecture (and fuming at the bland new buildings!) and so I will follow the links from this and have a cyber meander this afternoon….

    Thanks GA for the opportunity.

  5. March 30, 2020

    Oh, I love this! Simple but charming. If you ever decide to do a similar post on the beautiful gilded wrought iron gates of the city, I will be thrilled. Always try and snap them as I pass. Like the window boxes and tiny church gardens, they make the city a little jewel box of delights. Thanks, GA.

  6. Linda Semple permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Lovely images. Did you know about the children’s book written in the 1960s called ‘Country Cock and City Dragon’ by Jessie Powell that is entirely about these and statues in the City coming to life and fighting a battle? I read it as a child when it was first published in 1966 and it gave me an obsession with the City of London for life… there are sometimes second hand copies available. I still have my signed first edition birthday present from my parents

  7. Penny Gardner permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Splendid! I’m quite uplifted 🙂

  8. lyn permalink
    March 30, 2020

    these are beautiful images, shows how important it is to look up when walking through urban streets and i loved all the blue sky background as well

  9. Connie Unangst permalink
    March 30, 2020

    I saw my favorite one, the gridiron. Closeup pictures include so much detail. This was a fun one to see. It’s a gloomy day here in the USA. It put a little sunshine to the morning.

  10. Molly Porter permalink
    March 30, 2020

    My sister and I are wondering how Angelo Hornak obtained these remarkable close-up pictures? Can you tell us, please?

  11. March 30, 2020

    Launching a friendly flare — from our shores to yours. Atop one of our NY State Capital buildings is an 8-foot-tall working weathervane that is a replica of Henry Hudson’s ship “Half Moon”…….and we salute the Galleon atop the Abbey in your “neck of the woods”.

    Onward and upward.

  12. Robin permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Wonderful! It’s always a good idea to look up. Thank you for reminding us of that, GA.

  13. Allison permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Beautiful! So glad they’re still around!

  14. Fiona Larcombe permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Ashamed to say I work amongst many of these and have never spotted them, apart from the ship in Old Jewry, which clearly visible from our 5 to floor conference room window. I have passed this on to my colleagues and we are all resolved to look more carefully when we are allowed to return. Thank you for sharing them.

  15. Pauline Taylor permalink
    March 30, 2020

    Superb. I often look out from our third storey windows at our shop premises and admire the weather vane on the top of Holy Trinity Church on the opposite side of our street. That is a plain simple one and nothing like these incredibly attractive examples but oh how I miss it at the moment. Mixed feelings for me today but I have enjoyed seeing these so thank you.

  16. Chris Webb permalink
    March 31, 2020

    Over the weekend I watched a DVD of programmes about Fred Dibnah, and in one of them he replaced the weathercock on a church spire in Bolton. Not only that, he made and gilded it himself. An extremely talented man, as well as being humble and modest.

  17. Karen Chapmam permalink
    March 31, 2020

    This is a really lovely article and the photos are amazing.

    Simple but heart-warming.

    Thank you so much GA

    Kindest regards,


  18. April 1, 2020

    What Beautiful Weathervanes!!!! Thank You So Very Much!!!?????????

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