Royal Exchange Murals Under Threat From New Plans

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 20 months ago

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Royal Exchange Murals Under Threat From New Plans
Photo: Homemade.

It's fair to say the Royal Exchange's murals have not been treated as well as they could have been.

Already, to view the Victorian paintings depicting pivotal moments from London's history, is something of a palava. There's nothing to tell you they're hidden away behind the Royal Exchange's mezzanine, and even when you find them, you have to excuse your way around wait staff, shoppers, and City types hitting the bubbly.

There's even a kitchen, located between the paintings, reeking of frying oil.

Mural of the destruction of the second Royal Exchange in 1838. Image: The Mercers’ Company.

Now, The Victorian Society, says the murals are under further threat, from plans for the Grade I-listed Royal Exchange to insert a new mezzanine directly onto the face of murals.

Christopher Costelloe, director of The Victorian Society, said: "The City of London should have never allowed a mezzanine to be inserted into one of the City's most important public spaces. Few of the thousands of people working nearby are likely to know that it contains these impressive works of art...

Mural of the founding of the Bank of England. Image: The Mercers’ Company.

"The proposed mezzanine would cut many of them completely in half with a silicone strip. Worryingly, no assessment has yet been undertaken of the damage this could cause."

Aside from the potential damage to the paintings — created by artists including Frank Brangwyn and Lord Leighton — The Victorian Society claims the new plans would make it impossible to walk round the murals chronologically following key events in the City's history.

"An art lover would have to enter each shop and visit the upper and lower parts of the mezzanine to see all sections of the paintings — a highly unlikely scenario," says Costelloe.

Alfred the Great repairing the walls of the City of London. Image: The Mercer's Company.

The plans would also see the removal of statues of Elizabeth I and Charles I.

Those concerned about the plans can object to them here.

Last Updated 19 August 2016