PRE recently completed a survey on 86 Brook Street, Mayfair. Upon inspection we noticed interesting details to the building façade. The first of these was a pediment consisting of a snake entwined rod inside a wreath located above the main entrance to the building. It would be easy to assume this serves no more purpose than decoration, however with further investigation it can be found that the snake entwined rod is actually a significant symbol known as ‘The Rod of Asclepius’. The symbol takes its name from Asclepius the Greek God of medicine thus the presence of it on the building may very well indicate that it was built to serve a medical purpose. This theory is supported in an article by British-History.ac.uk which states that the building was reconstructed in 1922 to provide consulting rooms for a group of ‘distinguished doctors’, in addition to this the architect C. H. Biddulph Pinchard later went on to be the architect of the London Clinic on Marylebone Road.
Another sculpture on the building façade is a small owl on Binney Street located close to the corner of Brook Street. In Greek Mythology the owl was a symbol for Athena the Goddess of wisdom and strategy. It is possible that the owl is a tribute to these traits, however after noticing the plaque containing ‘Bird Street 1725’ as shown, may the owl be a reference to the previous name of the street?
Although speculative at times, it is always interesting to discover history and meanings through these memorials and they have a great impact on personifying buildings. We look forward to exploring more of these features and discovering significance and meanings to buildings.