City of London Dragons - Holborn, London, UK
N 51° 31.093 W 000° 06.671
30U E 700421 N 5711411
Quick Description: This pair of dragons mark the entry to the City of London on its west side at Holborn. There is a similar plinth and pedestal on each side of the road.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 2/12/2012 6:37:26 AM
Waymark Code: WMDPWZ
This blog gives a somewhat light-hearted view about the
City of London and its dragons.
"Several hundred years back, the City of London was
protected by a great stone wall, and access was controlled via several key
gates. Aldersgate was in the north, Ludgate to the west, Aldgate in the east,
and on the south end of London Bridge there was Bridge Gate. Later, others were
added, like Bishopsgate, Moorgate, Cripplegate, and Newgate. Nowadays, the
physical wall and gates have slipped out of popular memory. To many modern
commuters into the City, the Moorgate is nothing but a station on the Northern
Line of the London Underground.
Recently, a wing of the Occupy movement set up camp just up the road from
Moorgate, in Finsbury Square. Another wing set up in an old building in Sun
Street. Like the original St. Paul’s Camp, the new camps seem like incongruous
outposts amidst the black sheet glass and metal frames of buildings housing
financial giants. The protesters have managed to take temporary control of small
areas of physical space, and yet, do they really have true access to the City?
It seems to me that the walls of the City are still there, only nowadays you
can’t see them. They exist in codes and institutions, cultures and hidden
political forces, architectural styles and subtle symbols whispering you don’t
belong here. Finding ways of passing these hidden gates is a great and
worthwhile challenge. Before we attempt that though, it’s good to get a sense of
the ancient boundaries of the City. That’s why I’ve been recently visiting the
The City border dragons are sentinels on plinths, totem-like creatures lurking
at the ancient entrances to the City, originally to warn travellers and act as
toll-booths. They’re sometimes called griffins, but they’re actually dragons,
dog-like dragons with wings and a forked tongue. Maybe they’re like small
versions of Cerberus, the three-headed hound of darkness that guards the
underworld across the River Styx. Indeed, you do find three of them as you cross
over the river Thames – two on the south side of London Bridge, and one in the
middle of the road on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge.
So where are the others found? The largest border dragon is found at the Temple
Bar on Fleet Street, perched by the Royal Courts of Justice like a nazgul from
the Lord of the Rings. There are two smaller ones keeping watch in the street
next to Chancery Lane tube station on High Holborn. See if you can find the
others. There’s one lurking somewhere on Goswell Road in the north, and one next
to the Broadgate complex. There’s one around Moorgate, and another guarding the
area before theTower of London, somewhere on Byward Street.
My favourite border dragons though, are on the Victoria Embankment by Temple
Place. They’re slightly larger than most of the dragons, and strangely enough,
they used to reside above the entrance to the London Coal Exchange which was
demolished in 1963. Word on the street is that they took off and flew into the
night, landing on Victoria Embankment two years later.
Some have suggested that the dragons are creatures from mystical treasure
islands known as offshore tax havens. Indeed, the City is at the centre of a
giant web of such havens, a beating financial heart drawing in money from the
opaque offshore jurisdictions and pumping it back out to them again, keeping a
global system of secrecy alive. The vast majority of hedge funds and SPVs for
example, are incorporated in places like the Cayman Islands, even though they’re
managed from offices within London and the US. It poses something of a headache
for tax authorities, and also places something of a burden on the broader
society which does not have access to the offshore realms. Indeed, it’s an open
question as to how much of the City of London is even in London, and how much is
situated within excel spreadsheets on computers in Bermuda and the British
Certainly the City incorporates a lot more physical space than meets the eye.
It’s like that scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where the door to
Narnia is found. Hidden doors abound in the City, and they lead to parallel
universes on Caribbean Shores and Swiss Cantons.
So where does this leave access? I’m not sure. The border dragons mark the
ostensible borders of the City, but the true borders are scattered and
fragmented by a world of shell companies and registered addresses. And we
haven’t even got into the cultural and political boundaries yet. I guess we’ll
have to work on this access issue a bit more in due course. I’ve had
controversial views on it before, and they need to be refined.
In the mean time, enjoy hunting the dragons."
Source Curiocity blog.