Developer plans to move London Stone out of WH Smith and onto public plinth
In legend, it formed part of London’s foundations and was the resting place of King Arthur’s sword Excalibur.
But for years the London Stone has lain in a case behind a pavement-level grille in the Cannon Street WH Smith.
Now, the Grade II listed lump of oolitic limestone is set to be restored as a centrepiece of the Square Mile.
It ended up in the Sixties block housing WH Smith after its former berth, St Swithin’s Church, was bombed in the Blitz.
Under plans to turn the block into an eight-storey office tower, developer Applegarth has revealed plans to give the stone pride of place on a plinth.
An application to the City of London Corporation says: “The plinth and the London Stone would be reinstated at the height they were in St Swithin’s Church prior to its destruction in the Second World War. This would make it more prominent to public viewing than is currently the case.”
Giles Clapp, clerk of the Worshipful Company of Masons, which helps protect the history of the City of London, said: “We support giving the stone the prominence it deserves. It is very important in the telling of the London story.”
The relic — also known as the Stone of Brutus after the legendary Roman founder of the capital — is mentioned in historical documents as early as 1100.
It was written about by Shakespeare and Dickens and has become the subject of countless myths, including claims it was the stone from which Arthur drew Excalibur.
The 17th-century poet William Blake believed the site of the relic was a druidic sacrificial stone circle, while another theory holds it was the symbolic point from which all distances in Roman Britain were measured.
An application by developers Minerva to move the stone into the foyer of nearby offices sparked a row with heritage groups in 2012. The latest plan has been broadly welcomed, with Historic England raising no objections.
The CLC has called the new proposal “an appropriate development”. Its ruling, after a meeting tonight, could have wider repercussions for the City. An ancient warning comes with the block, which says: “So long as the Stone of Brutus is safe, so long will London flourish.”
Posted by juamei
11th March 2016ce