Make the most of London


A City surrounded by dragons

Posted by London Guided Walks on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 Under: Quirky

A City surrounded by dragons

The City of London is surrounded by dragons but why? 

How are dragons perceived in western culture?

In classical legend, dragons are associated with guarding something. For example, in Greek mythology, a ten headed dragon guarded the golden apples, in the Garden of the Hesperides. In medieval romance dragons spend a lot of time guarding pretty, captive women i.e. the princess in the tower story we all know so well.

How are dragons portrayed in literature and language?

Dragons are mentioned in the book of revelation where the devil is referred to as being a dragon. 

Do you know the difference between a griffin, a wyvern and a dragon? I have heard and read the City dragon ­to be called a griffin. This especially applies to the statue at Temple Bar. The term ‘east of the Griffin’ was once commonly employed to mean ‘east of Temple Bar’, i.e. in the City of London:

“If something unexpected did not happen, it meant another visit to a little office he knew too well in the City, the master of which, more than civil if you met him on a racecourse, … was quite a different person and much less easy to deal with east of the Griffin.”

Alfred Watson: Racecourse and Covert Side (1883).

A griffin has the backend of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.  Remember the Midland Bank adverts? That was a Griffin. I would think it more plausible to confuse a dragon with a wyvern. Can you tell the difference between a dragon, a wyvern and a griffin?  A wyvern is characterised as having scales and a barbed tail, like that of a dragon. A dragon has four legs whereas a Wyvern only two. 

Dragons in the City of London

Where do the City of London dragons come from?

The origin of the dragons isn't clear. Some say that they come from the story of George and the Dragon as St George is the patron saint of England. The sword and the dragons certainly distinguish the coat of arms of the City of London from those of England. 

In England, we associate St George with slaying the Dragon and indeed dragons guard the City of London and mark out the different gates around the city i.e Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Temple Bar, Bridge Gate and Moorgate. As with dragons being used in stories to protect something i.e.; Smaug in J.R.R Tolkein's 1937 novel The Hobbit protects Erebor (for himself) are the City of London dragons there to protect the city?

The City of London is the original heart of London having been established by the Romans in 55BC. The City of London is surrounded by dragons. The photo above is of one of the two dragons original statues from the Coal Exchange. These two dragons lived under the entrance to the Coal Exchange in Lower Thames Street until when it was demolished in 1863. After that they took up residence on either side of the Victoria Embankment.

What is the earliest image of the crest of the City of London?

The oldest known image of a crest is from 1539 when they are used on the reverse of the common seal of the City. The oldest image, however, is not very clear, by the end of the C17th, the crest had developed into the dragon wing.

The Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards 

Now in it’s 30th year the scheme recognises and celebrates community engagement, provide examples of best practice and to inspire others to get more involved covering Greater London. 

The results of the Awards are announced at a prestigious banquet, hosted by the Lord Mayor, held at The Mansion House. All Dragon Awards applicants receive a complimentary invitation to the dinner. 

Hunt down dragons in the City of London

Do you have a favourite dragon? Or perhaps you haven’t had the chance to hunt them down? Download my free City of London dragon guide.

Join us for a Dragon walk this St George's Day 23rd April

Book private City of London Dragon tour

In : Quirky 

Tags: statue  dragons  fantastic beasts 
comments powered by Disqus


"online bookings' cpd #earthrise 17th 1930s 50th a abbey adele afternoon afternoon tea age ages alastair ancient and animals annie anniversary apps architecture arsenal art arts attack awards baker bank bankside barbican bathhouses bazalgette beasts bishopsgate blitz bombers books borough bowie breakfast brewery brick bridge britain british bronze bronze age brunch burger burlesque buses cabaret cake canal canary captain carl carol caroline cathedral cemetery cenotaph century chapman charles charlton cheap cheapside cheese childhood chips chiswick chocolate christmas church city city of london clerkenwell cocktails coffee coffeehouses concert corporate covent covent garden covid-19 crime cross crown cruise david day december deptford dick dickens dinner do dock dockland museum dragons dreamtime earth eat eating eats ecommerce edward edwin egypt end ernst event events exhibition exhibitions facebook fairytale fall family fantastic farringdon february festival film finance fire first fiscus florence folklore food for francis free friars gallery galliard garden george georgian german germany gibb gift grade great greenhithe greenwich group guided guides half hall halsk harle harry potter havering havering hoard hawksmoor hazel heroes hidden highbury hill hilton history holloway homes hot hotel house how i ian ianmcd ice cream icelandic ii iii in inigo islington italian iv jack jack the ripper james jenny jewels johns jones joseph katharines kelly kenneth kew gardens kids kidstours killer kim kings kingston lambeth lane lewis lights limestone literature liverpool locations londinium london london bridge london's londoners lunch lutyens magnus market markets martyr mary maufe mayfair mcdiarmid measure medical medieval memorial middle millennium mock-tudor modern montague monument moorgate mosaic murder murderers museum museum of london docklands music musicals n7 national gallery national history museum ned new newcomen news nhs nichols night nightingale nurse of old street oliver open opera pancakes pandemic panoramic park parties path pauls people photo photograhy photography photos pizza places plays plumstead podcast poetry pokemon polly pop poplar prince priory private tours pub public purbeck qe2 queen queenhithe quirky recording reid religion rembrandt renaissance restoration ripper river road rob roman roundhouse royal saga saxon sculpture scupture seacole second serial sewers siemens sir smartphone smith smithfield smithfields soap soho somme south southbank southwark spitalfields spy squirrels ss st statue stories street stuart studios subscription summer susan sydenham tate tea term thames thamesmeade the theatre thiepval things things to do thrifty thriftytheatre to tour tours tower travel truman tudor tumblety twelfth twist und underground update v&a ve victoria victorian victorian london viking vouchers wales walk walking walks wall war water werner wharf wheeler whitechapel wilde wildlife willelm william wine winter women wood woodland woolwich world wyatt york 1888 2019 2020





Site by Hazel  |  Photographs by Hazel or Ian