The Story of the Lion

You might be familiar with the golden lion situated at the top of the Rowland Hill Memorial Gates at the entrance to the West concourse at Twickenham Stadium.

Have you ever wondered the story behind him?

Fact - the lion himself has not always been gold. When he first arrived, he was stone coloured - although he is not actually stone but instead a false stone, known as Coade stone. Coade stone was made in a factory owned by Mrs Eleanor Coade. She named her stone "Lythodipral" after a Greek word whose literal meaning is "Stone twice fire". The factory ran from 1769 until her death in 1821, however the formula for the stone has since been lost.

The lion was gilded in 1991, at a cost of £6,000 - greater than the cost of the original 10 ¼ acre plot of land purchased in 1907 for £5,572 12s and 6d on which the stadium now stands.

How did it arrive at Twickenham and where did it come from? A plaque on the gate's states:

"This lion made of Coade's artificial stone stood in front of the Lion Brewery, Lambeth from 1837 to 1948 when the site was cleared for the Royal Festival Hall. It was preserved - with the lion now standing on Westminster Bridge - at the express wish of King George VI".

About the Author - Gill Hagger is an England fan and Twickenham Tour Guide. She has worked as an archivist for the World Rugby Museum since 2005 and is a retired civil servant.

Come and see the Twickenham Lion for yourself by visiting the World Rugby Museum and taking part in one of our Twickenham Stadium tours.

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