“…half-a-dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink…”*

*Edmund Burke (1729 -1797)

M@londonist.com wrote on 22.12.16:

“…This is the Royal Exchange’s gilded grasshopper weather vane. This ancient insect has lorded over successive versions of the building since the mid-16th century. What could the clicky creature have to do with trade and finance?

The grasshopper was the personal emblem of Tudor financier Sir Thomas Gresham (c1519-1579).

Sir Thomas was a hugely influential figure in 16th century London. He founded the first Royal Exchange in 1565, which helped turn London into a global centre of finance. A bequest in his will set up Gresham College, which still puts on regular (and popular) public lectures to this day. And you may well have wandered down Gresham Street by (the) Guildhall, named in his honour.

But why did this sober man of finance choose a golden grasshopper as his personal emblem?

Legend has it that Thomas’s ancestor Roger de Gresham was abandoned as an infant in the marshlands of Norfolk. The rejected orphan was finally discovered after a woman was attracted by the sound of a chirruping grasshopper. The Gresham family later made good as merchants, and eventually incorporated the insect into their coat of arms, shown below as part of Gresham College’s logo.

That’s what the legend says. More likely, though, it’s probably some ancient pun of Gresh and grass.

The Royal Exchange weather vane is not the only prominent grasshopper in the area. You’ll see the orthopteran mark all over the place when you start looking…

But the best way to celebrate Thomas Gresham’s vast legacy is to pop along to a Gresham College lecture. These free talks, on every topic from economics to astronautics, are held regularly at Barnard’s Inn in Holborn or the Museum of London…”



From footprintsofLondon.com, on April 9, 2016:

“The western half of 67-70 Lombard Street is decorated with a number of grasshoppers, noticeably a giant gilded grasshopper perching at first-floor level and looking down at the passers by. This 1932 building covers the site of a house, 68 Lombard Street, which is known to have been occupied in 1560 by Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange. In the days before numbering (Lombard Street was not numbered until 1770) buildings were identified by signs, and the grasshopper identified Gresham’s house, the family device of the Greshams being the grasshopper.

The inscription above the giant insect reads ‘15 · TG · 63’. Gresham, though a mercer, is believed to have started a goldsmith’s practice here in 1563. In fact, Sir Randolph Heal’s 1935 survey The London Goldsmiths 1200-1800 lists him living here as a goldsmith between 1549 and 1579 (the year Gresham died).

The tenancy was taken in 1584 by Richard Martin, called to the livery of the Goldsmiths in 1558 and designated by Heal as ‘goldsmith & banker’. One of generations of goldsmiths, Richard appears to have laid the foundations for the family’s private bank, which grew from 68 Lombard Street when in 1703 Thomas Martin entered into partnership there with Andrew Stone, whose clerk he had been since 1699.”

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