Next time you’re walking through the City of Westminster, take a close look at the black lamp posts. Many contain a motif that looks like two horseshoes linked together, or two letter Cs back-to-back. Remind you of anything?
The design resembles the logo of fashion designer and perfumer Coco Chanel, which reflects her initials. Is this an early example of corporate sponsorship?
The story is more romantic. Chanel enjoyed a 10-year affair with the second Duke of Westminster. Legend says that the duke appended her initials to his street furniture as an amorous gesture. "My dear Coco," he might have said, "I'd like to be reminded of you every time I inspect my bollards."
Sadly for romantics everywhere, the story is apocryphal. The 'CC' device merely stands for ‘City Council’, and it's usually accompanied by a fancy 'W' indicating 'Westminster'.
The lampposts were installed in the 1950s, long after Chanel had split with the duke. (The pair never married; the designer’s cutting explanation: "There have been several Duchesses of Westminster. There is only one Chanel.")
A similar, but unconnected, motif can be found throughout the livery hall of the Clothworkers' Company in the Square Mile:
Perhaps it's time to start a new rumour: the 'CC' mark actually commemorates Charlie Chaplin, whose stellar career began on the West End stage.
This article is adapted from Everything You Know About London Is Wrong, a new mythbusting guide to London by Londonist's Editor-at-Large Matt Brown. Available now from Batsford. Photos by the author, not from the book.