Pineapples. They're everywhere in London. Once you start noticing them, you won't stop seeing them. Christopher Wren even picked pineapples to be the crowning feature of each of the towers of St Paul's Cathedral. In nearby Paternoster Square, the column is topped with a flaming copper urn — but is often mistaken for, and referred to as, a pineapple.
Elsewhere in London, pineapples can be seen in railings, on weather vanes and spires of prestigious buildings, on gate posts, in tiles...
As for Kentish Town's Pineapple pub, it was decorated with pineapples when it opened, back in 1868. Pineapples sat above every window and doorway, and, two interior mirrors were etched with pineapples, according to Kentishtowner. Whether the name was given from the off, or changed later to match the decor, is unknown, but pineapples can still be seen on the exterior today:
So why is London so obsessed with pineapples? Aside from their decorative qualities, pineapples used to be a symbol of wealth and status. They weren't grown in the UK or anywhere in Europe. Christopher Columbus brought them to these shores, and gave royalty a taste for them.
In the 18th century, people could rent pineapples out for the night if they were having a dinner party, using them as a centrepiece to demonstrate their wealth. The alternative was to buy one, which would have cost the equivalent of about £5,000 today.
In the same way that the wealthy used lions as a symbol of strength, pineapples were incorporated into art, decor and architecture to display (or at least hint at) wealth. Hence, to this day pineapples can be seen on rooftops, railings, entrances and doors of private houses and public buildings. Sir John Soane even added a pineapple to his own family's tomb, which can be seen in St Pancras Gardens.
Secret London has even more evidence of London's pineapple obsession.