Posted at looking-at-London.com on 27.10.15:
“…As with many figures in the pantheon of Roman gods, Mercury is closely related to an ancient Greek god – Hermes, who was the messenger. He carried messages from the gods to humans, and is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand. In mythology, this is the staff that was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. Mercury often is shown with sandals and a cap that have little wings – to speed him on his way as he carried messages. (The symbol of doctors is actually the Rod of Asclepius, which has ONE snake entwined around the rod. The confusion with the caduceus, especially in the US, started in the First World War when an Army officer used the caduceus as the symbol of the US Army Medical Corps. Too bad he didn’t do his research.)
…two somewhat camp figures stand in front of Globe House, 4 Temple Place. The bronze figures were sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler for the previous building on this site – Electra House – which was built in 1933 as the HQ for Imperial and International Communications, which in the following year became Cable and Wireless Ltd. The building had another, secret, purpose. Secret links were laid to the Central Telegraph Exchange in Moorgate which enabled the telephone lines of every foreign embassy in London to be monitored. So – Mercury may represent communications, but not necessarily public or transparent communications!
The new building at 4 Temple Place has been renamed Globe House which now houses offices for British American Tobacco.
Electra House on Temple Place was extensively damaged in WWII, so in 1955 Cable and Wireless built an HQ building in Holborn, at 124 Theobalds Road, and named it “Mercury House”…”