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Paternoster Square from St Paul’s Cathedral
As squares go, standing in it, this one is a pretty ugly one surrounded by rather ugly modern buildings including the London Stock Exchange. I like to see grass and or other forms of greenery – even if the square is in the centre of London as this one is. The square is actually privately owned (with public right of way) by the Mitsubishi Estate Co so this may explain the preference for concrete which, I imagine, is cheaper to maintain than grass and plants.

That said, it does look much better when viewed from above. My main picture attached is taken from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. The Square itself does also allow for some interesting shots of St Paul’s.The square takes its name from the medieval Paternoster Row where clergy from St Paul’s Cathedral would ambulate, rosaries in hand, reciting the Pater Noster or Lord’s Prayer.

Paternoster Row, centre of the London publishing trade. was pretty much wiped by the 1666 fire of London and then again by aerial bombardment during World War II. Post World War II it lay undeveloped until 1967 but that development proved rather unpopular. Lord Mayor, Robert Finch described it thus in 2004 – “The old Paternoster Square was typical: ghastly, monolithic constructions without definition or character’.

I rather think the Mayor’s description is equally apt for the new Square.

For me the most interesting aspect of the square (though arguably not part of it at all) is the Temple Bar – see my separate review – the St Paul’s side, entrance to/ exit from the square.

The main feature within the square is the 23m tall Paternoster Square Column. This is a Corinthian column of Portland stone (matching the Temple Bar) topped by a gold leaf covered flaming copper urn which lights up at night. The column, in addition to being reasonably aesthetically pleasing, also serves as a ventilation shaft for an underground car park and a service road that runs beneath the square.
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Shepherd and Sheep Sculpture

The Square has but a single sculpture entitled Shepherd and Sheep – by Dame Elizabeth Frink (originally unveiled by Yehudi Menhuin in 1975 and retained from the previous Square development).

This sculpture reminds one of the days when this square was the site of Newgate Meat Market until the Central Meat Market at Smithfield opened in 1868.

I am unsure as to why the shepherd is naked and un-endowed (in contrast to the front sheep (ram)!). As Frink was much better known for her well-endowed subjects perhaps she was somewhat influenced by the clergy of neighbouring St Paul’s in this instance.

Certainly have a wander through the square while you are in the area but nothing there to hold you too long.


This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on many trips to London. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Temple Bar Gate – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – London…as much of life as the world can show.


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