On the corner of a modern building near St Paul’s Cathedral can be found an ancient stone plaque of a knight.
The representation of the statue is on a tablet once adorned a house in Warwick Lane. The knight is shown in armous with shield and sword, a coat of arms at bottom right, the date 1668 at the top, and the initials GC at bottom left.
Exactly who GC would be is a bit of a mystery, and while the plaque is presumed to be one of the Earls of Warwick, that’s not proven. Certainly that family owned a large inn on the site, leading to some speculation that it could be a sign for the inn — and if so, one of the oldest survivors in the City.
Drawings of the sign show that it was once mounted into a wall of some building on Warwick Lane. If you look very carefully, you can see it still in it’s location above the 1st floor in the middle of the second building along Warwick Lane in this drawing, just where the lady is leaning out of the window.
What’s particularly notable is that the sign used to be smaller, but you can very clearly see the joint marks at the top and bottom where it was later lengthened. The lengthening was carried out in 1817, but at the same time, it seems that the sign, maybe an advert for an Inn, was now also advertising a book.
The writer, Thomas Pennant penned a series of books variously known as “Some Account of London”, and this sign appears in the 2nd edition onwards, noting that the depiction of the Earl is the same as a statue in the chapel of St Mary Magdalene in Guy’s Cliffe near Warwick.
The stone plaque says that it’s in the 5th edition, so maybe this was an early effort at promoting the book by noting on the sign that you can learn about its history by buying the book.