Not far from the northern end of London Bridge, in the capital’s historic centre, you’ll find a short street called ‘Philpot Lane.’
Named after Sir John Philpot (Lord Mayor of London between 1378-1379), Philpot Lane links Eastcheap and Fenchurch Street.
It is also home to London’s tiniest public statue; ‘The Two Mice Eating Cheese.’
These two small fellows can be found half-way up a building which sits on the south-eastern corner of Philpot Lane, just by the junction with Eastcheap.
Details of who created these critters, and when they were placed here are pretty much non-existent. However, one thing is certain- these two wee mice are a memorial to two builders who died nearby…
The builders in question were working on ‘The Monument’; a towering column which stands on the junction of Fish Street Hill and Monument Street, about 400 ft. away from Philpot Lane.
Built between 1671-77, the Monument was designed to commemorate the Great Fire of London, which had destroyed a vast part of the City a few years before.
Its architect was one of London’s finest; the incredible Sir Christopher Wren. Testament to Sir Wren’s genius, the Monument, to this day, remains the tallest, isolated stone column in the world.
At some point during the Monument’s construction, the two builders mentioned earlier sat down to enjoy their packed-lunch of bread and cheese.
Clearly having a head for heights, the two men- who were sound friends by all accounts- were content to sit at their workplace; perched on a high scaffold (in those days of course, health and safety was unheard of. Workers on the Monument weren’t even required to wear hard-hats and hi-vis jackets!)
However, something was amiss… one of the men’s sarnies had been nibbled away to almost nothing!
For some reason, the victim of this food theft immediately blamed his mate sitting beside him and a fight broke out- not wise when you’re poised so high up.
Trading punches, the unfortunate pair lost their footing and plunged to the ground, both being killed instantly.
It was only later, after similar disappearances of bread and cheese, that the real culprits were discovered:
An infestation of tiny mice.
So small is the sculpture of Mice Eating Cheese, that it can be quite a headache to find! If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, I’ve circled it in the image below, courtesy of ‘Google Maps.’