"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Stone Griffins

I read an interesting story in the Birmingham Evening Mail last week about a group of 6 stone Griffin statues. Local residents are apparently taking steps to apply for a Heritage Lottery Bid to pay for the restoration of the statues.

When I gave my son a lift home from his office at Fort Dunlop on Easter Monday we made a detour on the way home to have a look at the statues.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the statues stood along the roof of the original Lewis's Department Store in Birmingham City Centre. When the building was demolished the statues were moved to Yorks Wood where 6 Griffins formed a line near the entrance to the wood. Each statue is about 8 to 10 feet high and each is slightly different from its companions.

I must admit I don't remember ever having seen the statues before but my husband knew all about them as he used to regularly attend scout camps in Yorks Wood when he was young.

In 1972 the Scout camp closed and much of the wood was lost (only a small remnant remains today) when a housing estate called Shard End was built but the Griffin statues remain to the present day.

Griffins are mythical Greek creatures with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. They were powerful and majestic legendary creatures that often guarded treasures.

There is a rumour, although no evidence has been found to support it, that the statues were given to the City of Birmingham by a Tsar of Russia.

It is interesting to read in a book called "Castle Bromwich in the Past - Part 2" by J. Dutton and C. Green that originally there were nine statues on the Lewis's building so where are the other 3? If anyone has seen any of the missing 3 Griffin statues in or around Birmingham I would love to hear from them.


Pete said...

amazing what we find out locally that we never knew!

The Wessex Reiver said...

Very interesting story, I hope they are looked after and preserved. There's a similar story in Northumberland at Wallington Hall


where 4 griffins amazingly removed from somewhere in London and used just as ballast in coal ships were moved to the hall, where they entertain passers by to this day

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - yes you are right, there are still so many places/nature reserves fairly local that I have yet to visit.

Wessex Reiver - Thanks. I thought it was a fascinating story too. I will have a look at the Wallington Hall link - sounds interesting. I'll do a post in the future if the Birmingham ones are restored with some up to date pictures.

Vinnyman. said...

The Griffin's are going to restored in Yorks Wood on Wednesday 19th February 2014. http://johncotton.org/2014/01/30/day-of-the-griffins/ Great Blog by the way.

Ragged Robin said...

Vinnyman - Thank you so much for your comment and letting me know about the Griffin restoration - that is great news.

Lovely to see your blog by the way. I hope you don't mind I have added it to My Blog List.