London is unique in the number and variety of its lion statues. If you ask Londoners how many such lions they think there are, they usually say, 'There are four in Trafalgar Square' and they pause . . . then 'Oh yes, there's also one by Westminster Bridge.' In fact there are many thousands more, from the oldest (on the York Watergate) and snootiest (guarding the Montague Place entrance to the British Museum) to the cheekiest (perched on Britannia's helmet in Gresham Street) and saddest (at Black Lion Lane in Hammersmith). Here with a very British kind of composed eccentricity is an account of some of these lions, dividing them into categories, and listing in an appendix, by London Borough, the roads where over ten thousand lions the author has identified are to be found.
This book will prompt readers to keep an eye out for lions in London's streets, and to observe much more closely the details of the capital's wonderfully varied architecture. A lion safari in London can be far the most satisfying sort: in a half-hour's walk you are virtually certain to find many varieties of the species. And London's lions, far from being disturbed by the attention, are after all intended to meet our gaze.