Fleet Street / Strand – Samuel Johnson

Outside the magnificent Royal Air Force adopted Church of St Clement Danes stands an imposing statue of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). Johnson was a critic, essayist, philologist, biographer, wit, poet, moralist, dramatist, political writer and talker who worshipped at this church.  The statue was the gift and handiwork of Percy Fitzgerald FSA and was erected in 1910.

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Fitzgerald, the sculptor, painter & author, modelled the face on the portrait by Reynolds and Nolleken’s bust. Fitzgerald also unveiled the statue when the death of  Edward VII caused the planned royal unveiling by his daughter, Princess Louise, to be cancelled. The work has been described variously as “grotesque” and “not at all lifelike” but this does not seem to put off troops of tourists!  If you do see this statue, be sure to visit the church and especially the crypt where one of the coffin chains used to foil body snatchers can still be seen on display. In the past, the stealing of bodies for anatomical dissection was a thriving business in London.

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