History Behind These Curious Sculptures Above Piccadilly

Look up above Patisserie Valerie on Piccadilly and you’re in for a shock. These curious sculptures will be staring back down at you.

Sculptures above piccadilly

39 St James’s Street used to be the Norwich Union Building, there’s a picture where you can see the logo here.

Sculptures above piccadilly

The building, by Runtz & Ford architects, was built 1907-1909 and the group of bronze sculptures is by Hibbert Charles Binney.

But the history of Norwich Union starts earlier. In 1797 the catchily-named “Norwich Union Society for the Insurance of Houses, Stock and Merchandise from Fire” was established by Thomas Bignold. They later became known as Norwich Union Fire Insurance Office. Norwich Union Life Insurance Company was established in 1808. In 2000 they merged with another company and was rebranded as Aviva in 2002.

But back to the sculptures…

Sculptures above piccadilly

The title is Justice robed with attendants and shows the figure of justice, cloaked and with a scale and sword in her hands. To the left is a woman holding an ear of corn in her arms and to the right a man looks out into the distance.

Sculptures above piccadilly

The grouping is an appropriate subject for an insurance company; looking to the future and gathering sustenance for the long-term.

39 St James’s Street is currently being refurbished by Barr Gazetas for Standard Life Investments so the sculptures still make thematic sense!

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1 Comment

  • Stewart Francis


    Happy New Year to you, Katie, and thank you for all the inspiration and insights you have provded over 2019!

    Thank you for pointing out and explaining these interesting sculptures. This group is an excellent additiion to this area, which I think of as my neck of the woods!

    January 1, 2020 at 9:18 am

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