Where Can You Find Two Cherubs On The Phone? | Two Temple Place
The late Victorian mansion – now known as Two Temple Place – was built in 1892 by the American, William Waldorf Astor.
A curious man (he once faked his own death to escape from public view) Astor arrived in London in 1891 when he was – arguably – the richest man in the world.
On purchasing Two Temple Place he tasked John Loughborough Pearson with designing a new opulent house on the Embankment, spending $1.5 million in the process!
As you can see from this ceiling of the entrance hall. There was no expense spared.
Although the interior is sumptuous (you can read my blog post on their stunning stained glass windows here), some of the more curious architectural features can be seen from the outside…
Firstly, there’s the huge weathervane (made by J. Starkie Gardner) which represents the sailing ship Santa Maria from which Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ America.
But my favourites are the eclectic lamps by William Silver Frith that stand either side of the entrance.
On the right hand side, the lamp is decorated with two cherubs (or putti) who appear to be messing around with a telephone!
One speaking into the phone;
While the other listens intently on the receiver end;
What on earth’s going on?
Astor – a man so keen to only have the very best designs in his new home – wanted to celebrate this new technology. Although weird to us, when you consider this was one of the first London houses to have a telephone installed, it (kind of) makes sense that you’d want to show this off.
On the left hand side, to further emphasise himself as the modern man, one cherub seems to be generating electricity:
While the other holds a contemporary light bulb design aloft, again displaying Astor’s tech-savvy style.
Two Temple Place Today
The building is now owned by The Bulldog Charity Trust (hence the hanging bulldog that you’d be forgiven for mistaking for a pub sign outside) who give financial and advisory assistance to other charities.
It’s open to the public during their (free!) exhibitions January – April and Open House Weekend, find out about other public events on their website here, it’s only about a 2 minute walk from Temple Underground Station.
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