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The Stationers' Company
The City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content Industries


24 AUGUST 2021

Heroes and Villains - Walking Tour

For the first time in over a year, and on a beautifully sunny day, 25 Stationers and guests were able to meet face to face.  The occasion was a walking tour given by Liveryman David Harry of the area around Stationers' Hall focusing on Heroes and Villains both ancient and modern.

David, otherwise known as The London Spy, is one of London's premier tour guides, and also an accomplished magician.  We started in the Stationers' Hall courtyard, with our first hero, our very own Wynkyn de Worde, who brought printing to the Stationers.  Next stop, behind the Hall, was the haunt of the terrifying Black Dog of Newgate, said to prowl the street in the dark of night with a pestilential smell, having been summoned by a warlock to exact revenge on other inmates in the infamous Newgate Prison.  This street, Amen Corner, is perilously close to the Clerk's residence - sleep well, Giles!  To lighten the mood, David then demonstrated his magical prowess with a card trick (I can't work out how he did it!).

Amongst many heroes and villains colourfully described by David, there were a number that were Stationer-specific, including Brandy Nan (aka Queen Anne) who was responsible for the 1710 Statute of Anne, the first copyright act regulated by the government and courts.  Next to her statue by St. Paul's Cathedral, David treated us to very amusing and earthy ditty, explaining why she had her back(side) to St. Paul's and her front facing a pub. 

Universally acknowledged heroes were the firemen of the Blitz, and David showed us the poignant memorial, sculpted by

John W. Mills, to the many firefighters who died in WW2 and subsequent years.   The effects of the Blitz provided much opportunity for redevelopment of central London in the postwar years and, somewhat more controversially, depending on your point of view, the architects of this rebuilding can be seen as heroes or villains!  David spoke about Prince Charles' opposition to the architects' vision of Paternoster Square, but many on the tour agreed that the end results are quite pleasing.

Other sites discussed included the oldest and most famous tree in the City of London, immortalised by Wordsworth, the

Paternoster Vents otherwise known as Angel's Wings - a stainless steel sculpture which were designed in 2002 by Thomas Heatherwick by folding a piece of A4 paper (and David recreated this origami for us), and the Bishop of London's house, to name just a few.

All in all, this was a wonderfully entertaining and informative morning, and hats off to David for his infectious enthusiasm and incredible knowledge!  A number of us repaired afterwards for a very enjoyable lunch.  David was kind enough to give his services for free, so all ticket sales went directly to the Stationers.  He has volunteered to do further talks for the Stationers, and his tours are available at