As I was by Cock Lane the other day, just had to take a few photos of “The Golden Boy of Pye Corner”, a small monument located on the corner with Giltspur Street (map link).

It was erected where the Great Fire of London (1666) stopped and it bears the following inscription: “This Boy is in Memory Put up for the late FIRE of LONDON Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony.”

The statue, made of wood and covered in gold is listed and according to the listing, the figure was formerly winged. An article in Public Sculpture of the City of London by Philip Ward-Jackson also suggests that at one time the statue was painted naturalistically. I’d suspect that the gold was added by the Victorians to deflect the eye from such public nudity!

A larger more modern sign below explains more: “The boy at Pye-Corner was erected to commemorate the staying of the Great Fire, which beginning at Pudding Lane was ascribed to the sin of gluttony when not attributed to the Papist as on the Monument and the boy was made prodigiously fat to enforce the moral.”

Golden Boy of Pye Corner

I wonder what a statue of a “prodigiously fat” boy would look like if made today – certainly a bit chubbier than the one here.

He was originally built into the front of a Public-House called the Fortune of War, which used to occupy this site and was pulled down in 1910.

The Fortune of War was the chief house of call, north of the river for Resurrectionists in body snatching days years ago. The landlord used to show the room where on benches round the walls the bodies were placed labelled with the snatchers names, waiting till the surgeons at Saint Bartholomew’s could run round and apprise them.

The pub is also notable for in 1761, the tenant of the house Thomas Andrews was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to death, but was pardoned by King George III in one of the first cases of public debate about homosexuality in England.

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One comment on “The story of the Golden Boy of Pye Corner
  1. All things considered, then, the choice of name Cock Lane was rather unfortunate in more ways than one.