In Paternoster Square is a sculpture of a shepherd and sheep, also called Paternoster – the sculpture that is, not the sheep. They are unnamed.

The statue was commissioned by Trafalgar House for the north side of its 1960s development at Paternoster Square, made by Elisabeth Frink and unveiled in July 1975.

Although it shows a semi-religious image and is sited in Paternoster Square (Pater Noster is Latin for the Lord’s Prayer) next to St Paul’s Cathedral — the sculpture is not directly religious. It actually shows a shepherd herding five sheep, in memory of Newgate Market, which used to sit just to the north-west of where Paternoster Square is today.

It has been suggested that the sculpture was inspired by Frink’s stay in the mountainous region of Cervennes (France) where sheep and shepherds are a part of the everyday landscape, and by her admiration for Picasso’s 1944 bronze, Man with Sheep. The subject chosen may also have derived from a wilful confusion on Frink’s part between the pater of Paternoster (Our Father) and pastor (shepherd).

The clever ambiguity of the work lets people see in it a former meat market, or the influence of the Cathedral behind, to their contentment. The statue was removed in 1997 to a temporary location on London Wall while the offices around St Paul’s were redeveloped, and was reinstalled in 2003 on a new Portland stone plinth after the redevelopment was completed.

A final note, the statue of the shepherd is androgynous and could be a man, or a woman, or neither. No one knows.

Nearest railway stations

  1. St. Paul's
  2. City Thameslink
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4 comments on “Shepherd and Sheep in Paternoster Square
  1. Bob says:

    Great article, I worked at BT Centre and often wondered about that statue.

    Also, not to be ‘that guy’ but ‘Pater Noster’ is Latin for ‘Our Father’, it’s also the name of the Lord’s Prayer of course but your text makes it sound like ‘the Lord’s Prayer’ is the direct translation of the text, which it isn’t. A very minor point, granted.

  2. JP says:

    Wasn’t it originally against a blank wall?
    The sheep look a bit lost, if I may say so, out in the pedestrian routes of the square either on the way to meet the executioner or the Great Salvator.
    Long time no tramp through that one-time controversial redevelopment. Still, I could shepherd five of me mates right across it from Monday, 2 metre shepherd’s crook in hand of course.

  3. Penelope Joy says:

    Pater noster actually means ‘Our Father’ – first two words of the Lord’s prayer, as already pointed out.

  4. Chris Rogers says:

    I have copies (on microfilm) of the original plans for the statue’s installation, from the archives of Trehearne and Norman who designed the Paternoster scheme.

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