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Hold the line please

A short walk from Temple Underground Station you’ll come across several statues of Cherubs. Nothing particularly amazing about that as there are probably hundreds of Cherubs in London, however these are slightly different.

What makes these Cherubs slightly different is that they’re talking on early telephone equipment.

These Telephonic pioneers stand outside the former home of William Waldorf Astor, who was one of the first people in London to have a telephone installed in their home. The building is always known as Two (never 2) Temple Place and was built for the Astors by the Gothic Revival architect John Loughborough Pearson. The interior is described by architectural historian Donald Strachan as “Victoriana meets Disney” with the otherwise straightforwardly opulent rooms decorated with lots of marble and mahogany and adorned with bizarre details, such as the characters from The Three Musketeers which was Astor’s favorite book.

Astor, aware that his immense fortune also brought with it problems saw the house as a place where his children would be safe from kidnapping and instructed his architect that the building should be modelled on a Tudor stronghold.

The building is quite imposing from the outside and shows what money can buy you. However I always smile when I pass by as I wonder if the Astor’s had any idea that they had built their London home right over the top of the 17th century Pissing Alley, which probably needs no further explanation

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