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Tim Crawley's City of London stone sculptures

The City of London boasts fine examples of work by Tim Crawley, one of the UK's foremost sculptors of stone.

Examples of Tim Crawley's sculpture in the City of London: a heraldic lion on Temple Bar and a but of William Shakespeare outside Guildhall Art Gallery
Examples of Tim Crawley's sculpture in the City of London

Tim Crawley describes himself as a stone carver, sculptor and designer. Specialising in sculpting and carving stone for architectural projects, he has worked on many famous buildings in England.

 

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His skills encompass both restoration work on historical buildings and new work. Examples can be seen in many locations in London and around the country.


In London his work can be seen at locations including the spire of St George's Bloomsbury, Westminster Abbey, St Pancras station, Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, the Queen Mother Memorial on the Mall, the Charterhouse and the reproduction of Inigo Jones' Phoenix Theatre behind Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

St George's Bloomsbury in the foreground,  with beasts by Tim Crawley at the base of its spire. The British Museum and University of London's Senate House behind the church
St George's Bloomsbury in the foreground, with beasts by Tim Crawley at the base of its spire (British Museum and Senate House beyond)

Outside London Tim Crawley's work is on view in places such as Lincoln, Cambridge, Ely, Winchester, Kenilworth Castle and Portsmouth.


In this post, I am going to focus on sculptures by Tim Crawley that can be seen in the City of London. The principal locations in the City for his work are outside Guildhall Art Gallery in Guildhall Yard and on Temple Bar in Paternoster Square.


Outside Guildhall Art Gallery, there are four monumental busts of men from London's history.


Carved from Portland stone, the same material as the Gallery itself, the busts depict Samuel Pepys, Oliver Cromwell, William Shakespeare and Christopher Wren at one and a half times life size. They were created by Tim Crawley in 1998, in time for the Guildhall Art Gallery's opening in 1999.


You can see more pictures of Tim Crawley's Guildhall Art Gallery work, including while still in the workshop on his website here.


Temple Bar displays heraldic stonework created by Tim Crawley in 2004. The stone gate, originally built in around 1670 to the design of Christopher Wren, once formed the entrance between the City of London and the City of Westminster and stood at the point where Fleet Street becomes The Strand.

Temple Bar, Paternoster Square, City of London
Temple Bar, Paternoster Square

It was taken down to facilitate better traffic flow and to allow road widening in 1878. After more than a century in the grounds of Theobolds Park in Hertfordshire, it was re-acquired by the City of London Corporation and re-assembled between Paternoster Square and St Paul's Cathedral as part of the redevelopment of the Square in 2004.


The original stone coats of arms of the City of London and of the Stuart Royal Family and their heraldic supporters had long since disappeared, so Tim Crawley was asked to recreate them afresh. (Note that the statues of Royalty on Temple Bar are the originals.)


On the Paternoster Square side, which once faced the City of London, is a stone shield from the City coat of arms, topped by a dragon's wings, above the central arch.


There are also two stone dragons, which support shields on either side of the gate (to read more about the significance of dragons to the City of London coat of arms, read City of London: dragon's den).


The Stuart Royal coat of arms, topped by a stone crown, is above the central arch on the St Paul's side of Temple Bar, which once faced the City of Westminster. The stone lion on the left hand side of the gate represents England, while the unicorn on the right represents Scotland.


It was the Stuart dynasty that first united England and Scotland under a single monarch when James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603.


You can see Tim Crawley's Temple Bar work at close quarters on one of the walking tours I lead for the Temple Bar Trust. This tour includes access to the small room above the arch and the chance to see a stone dragon, the stone unicorn and the stone crown at close quarters (details of the next available tour are here).


There are more pictures of this Temple Bar work, including while still in the workshop, on Tim Crawley's website here.


Also in the City of London, work by Tim Crawley can be seen on Holborn Viaduct where it crosses Farringdon Street.


In 1999 he carried out restoration work to the ornamental detail of Atlantic House, which stands over the north west steps of Holborn Viaduct. This work, while integral to the look of the building, can easily be missed as it does not comprise works of figure sculpture.

Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct, City of London
Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct

In 2011 Crawley carved work for the restored north east building, which completed the restoration of the viaduct complex to its original form of 1863. He created a monumental keystone head and one of the figures of Sea-god Atlante overlooking Farringdon Street.

Crawley's Atlante figure is supporting the balcony, Holborn Viaduct, City of London
Crawley's Atlante figure is supporting the balcony, Holborn Viaduct

Born in 1955, Tim Crawley went to Manchester University, where he studied Art History, specialising in medieval architecture and graduating in 1977. After further studies at the City & Guilds of London Art School and a number of freelance jobs as a stone carver, his career came to a crossroads in the mid 1980s.


Presumably concerned that stone carving would not provide a suitable long term career, he secured a place on a teacher training course. However, stone carving had other ideas for him.


Tim Crawley says on his website, "Just before I was due to start [teacher training] the offer came to carve this exquisite little bestial frieze for an Edwardian mansion in Henley."


The work entailed restoration work to Edwardian Gothic stone carvings at a country house called Friar Park. This happened to be the Henley home of George Harrison.


Crawley would not have been able to perform the commission and also take up his place at teacher training college. Unable to resist the offer, he cancelled his place and did the work for the former Beatle in 1986.


Among the many things for which the world should be grateful to The Beatles are the stone carvings of Tim Crawley.

 

Walks available for booking

For a schedule of forthcoming London On The Ground guided walks, please click here.

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