The statue of Peace in Smithfield with its secret sign of fidelity.

As I mentioned in passing on my post on Smithfield Market the area hasn’t just got a millennia long relationship with animal markets and executions.  It was also a place where men in Victorian times would bring their unwanted wives to swap them with other men, divorce being both monetarily expensive and a social faux-pas.

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The statue of peace at Smithfield.

Around the same time, the area was falling into a state of filthy dilapidation and the square at West Smithfield was remodelled to include a small public garden.  The centrepiece of the garden was and still is this beautiful statue of Peace.

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J. B. Philip, sculptor of the station in 1873

Mr Philip was a devout Christian and didn’t want anyone to question the morals of the lady he sculptured and so he fitted a gold wedding ring to her finger and made the statue in such a way it can’t be removed.  It’s hard to imagine some people even caring about their reputation in person these days, let alone of the reputation of a figure of a lady who is simply a statue.

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It’s actually almost impossible to see in person and in the photo above it is impossible to see.  I suppose it had to be made almost inaccessible to avoid it being taken, even by those few who know it is there in the first place.

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I’ve been here many times and I took these photos early on Thursday morning enjoying the peace and beauty as the meat traders cleaned up from their night shift just a minute away; much as I imagine people have done here for the last 150 years.

 

 

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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