Curious London memorials – 9. The Golden Boy of Pye Corner

March 9, 2011

It’s widely known that Pudding Lane was the place where the Great Fire of London is believed to have started in 1666 – hard to miss given the site is commemorated nearby in the form of The Monument, the world’s tallest freestanding stone column – but what about where it was stopped? Standing in a niche on the corner of a building overlooking the junction of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane is a small gilt statue known as the ‘Golden Boy of Pye Corner’.

It’s not known how old the statue is but it is known that it was previously located on the front of a pub, The Fortune of War, which stood on the site until it was demolished in 1910 (and was apparently used by body-snatchers as a place to display stolen corpses for surgeons to peruse).

The statue – which apparently marks the place where the fire was ‘stayed’ (that is, buildings were destroyed to stop the fire spreading any further) –  is accompanied by an inscription which reads “This Boy is in Memmory put up for the late Fire of London Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony 1666”.

Below it an explanatory note below explains that the boy was made deliberately fat in reference to the fact the fire was started in Pudding Lane as a result of gluttony and not by Papists as was claimed on The Monument (this reference – “But Popish frenzy, which wrought such horrors, is not yet quenched” – was added to the inscriptions on the Monument in 1681 but was removed in 1831).

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