The Golden Boy of Pye Corner
The Golden Boy of Pye Corner is a small monument located on the corner of Giltspur Street and Cock Lane in Smithfield, London. It was erected where the Great Fire of London (1666) stopped and it bears the following inscription:
This Boy is in Memory Put up for the late FIRE of LONDON Occasion’d by the Sin of Gluttony.
The statue was originally built into the front of a public house called The Fortune of War which used to occupy this site but was demolished in 1910.
Hidden London picks up the story..
“Pye Corner was the name given in those days to the junction of Cock Lane and Giltspur Street and it may have originated from an inn sign depicting a magpie.
Giltspur Street was first recorded with this name in the mid-16th century. It seems likely to derive from the earlier presence of spurriers, whose wares were in demand for the medieval jousting tournaments held at Smithfield and Cheapside. Gilt spurs were also buckled to a man’s heels as part of the ceremony of making him a knight.
Cock Lane had a far less reputable history. First recorded around 1200, its name probably signified a lane where fighting cocks were reared and/or sold. In the late Middle Ages Cock Lane was the only place north of the Thames where brothels – or ‘stews’ – were legally sanctioned. William Langland’s Vision of Piers Plowman (late 14th century) contains a reference to one “Clarisse of Cokkes lone” [sic]. In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2, Falstaff is accused of continually going to Pye Corner “to buy a saddle” – probably an oblique reference to his patronage of the brothels.”