In the 1950s, a set of stone reliefs were added to a building so high up that hardly anyone could see them. But now anyone can see them.

The southern towers of the original Lloyd’s Building (opened in 1957) carried a series of allegorical panels representing Air, Sea, Fire and Land, carved in relief by James Woodford.

In 2008, they were relocated to the party wall of 52 – 54 Lime Street as part of the Willis Building planning conditions and mounted onto a steel frame at street level. However, a few months ago they were moved once more to a new location, as part of the construction of what is nicknamed the Scalpel skyscraper, and are once more easy to see again.

They’re a bit difficult to stand back and admire, but being slightly hidden on a back street makes them more appealing to discover.

Do look for the representation of Water, which is ringing the famous Lutine Bell, which was rung inside Lloyds of London to announce lost ships. Air is shown with a very art-deco aeroplane, while fire gets the rising phoenix. Not sure what has pissed off the sheep though.

James Woodford was a notable sculptor, and his works include sets of bronze doors for the headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Norwich City Hall; the Queen’s Beasts, originally made for the Coronation in 1953, and later replicated in stone at Kew Gardens, and the statue of Robin Hood outside Nottingham Castle.


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  1. ChrisC says:

    *Lutine Bell*

    From the ship of that name. Though the bell actually has ‘St Jean’ inscribed on it.

  2. JP says:

    Perhaps the well-groomed goat-like sheep is upset because it’s looking out onto it’s erstwhile meadow, now ploughed and being sown with the seeds the figure is unthinkingly broadcasting over the poor creature’s head.

  3. Chris Rogers says:

    The panels represent the Four Elements. But handily also the main areas of insurance – air travel, shipping, fire, industry/agriculture.

    It’s good to see them back.

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