Category Archives: Sculpture

Two Crutched Friars

On Tower Hill, about 300 yards north-east of Fenchurch Street station, we find this piece of art nestling in the corner of a 1980s office block. It depicts a meeting of two monks or friars.

Created by sculptor Michael Black, it was installed here when the building was constructed in 1985 and is called “Two Crutched Friars”.

Black, who passed away in 2019, is best known for works in his native Oxford though he has one other piece in the City: a statue of the journalist Paul Reuter which you may find at the back of the Royal Exchange.

Black worked mainly with stone and was known to ply visitors with home made beer.

This work is inspired by the title characters from a book called “Narziss and Goldmund” by the Swiss author Hermann Hesse.

Narziss, on the right, holding a staff and a sack is a teacher.
Goldmund, on the left, with a parchment or scroll, is an artist and sculptor.

If you look above Goldmund, you’ll see that we are at the corner of a street called Crutched Friars.

From the 13th to the 16th century this was the site of an Augustinian Friary belonging to what was known as the Order of the Holy Cross.

Its members were called “crossed” or “crutched” friars because they carried staffs with a crucifix attached.

As mentioned, the piece is called Two Crutched Friars but this is a misnomer. The characters in Hesse’s novel have their story set in Germany and not the medieval City of London.

Let’s look at the statues in detail.

The robes are light brown granite, the same as that used for the walls of the building.

The heads, hands and feet achieve their grey colour from Bardiglio marble.

Scroll and staff are bronze, coated in black paint.

The scroll is said to contain a secret message – but you’ll need to bring a stepladder to find out!