I hadn’t heard of the Angel of the Thames, a supposed angel seen on the water from and around Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank. The most significant sighting was in 2006:
Student Jemima Waterhouse, 16, from Sheen, spotted the angel in May as she wandered down the South Bank to meet a friend.She said: "I felt a sense of calm spreading over me."It was comforting and familiar - a kind of peace that lasted for a while after."It is really hard to put into words, but I guess you could describe it as peace of mind."She quickly snapped the apparition (circled) hovering close to the Queen Mary floating restaurant on her camera phone but when she showed her friend the quality was poor.She added: "My friend remained unconvinced until we got the photo onto a computer that evening when the image became clearer and the outline of what could only be described as an angel became distinct."
This is from the (usually rather stoned*) South London Press, 15 September 2006, it also says:
“Eerily so far this year four people claim to have seen the angel near the London Eye and an internet cult is growing.”
“These sightings have prompted much online chat about the so-called Angel of the Thames.Already angel walks are being offered along the waterside and Angel T-shirts are available.One angel obsessive - who meets up with other people who have spotted the ghostly figure to share their experiences - thinks it must date back to the fire.”
There are three sites, Friends of the Angel of the Thames, Angel on the Thames and Thames Angel: A History of the Angle of Promise.
There’s claims of historical evidence and interaction on each site, the ‘Friends’ site claims folk have taken coach trips to see the angel since 1963 (though the 'Friends' of the Angel seem to be taking it all a little less seriously, there's a Pug dressed-up as an angel on their site).
Thames Angel gives a long chronology of sightings , from 1666 onwards, including five illustrations of the angel, eleven photographs (from Daguerreotype to digital) and one CCTV capture in 2089, presumably 2008.
No sources, journals, newspapers or chapbooks are cited for any of the illustrations or photographs, this angel very much has snow on it’s boots.
The one ‘engraving’ presented is there, among other places.
The angel has a suspicious white line all the way around it. I’ve not been able to find this angel in Gustav Davidson’s ‘Dictionary of Angels’ but I’m convinced I’ll be able to find it in a verifiably old picture that doesn’t feature a grim riverside view. And the ‘grim riverside view’ is, surely, available without an angel dropped onto the corner on a warehouse with a white line all around it.
There’s also this supposed photograph of Londoners watching the angel after the declaration of war in 1914.
Now, even I, a scruffy and regularly hung-over atheist, would be gazing in wonder at an angel on the Thames if I saw one. Why aren’t they all watching the angel hovering over the Thames? They seem to be looking everywhere but there.
(Oh, by the way, do please let me know if these links somehow break in the next few days.)
If only I lived with someone whose work desk in next to the Port of London Authorities’ archivist, who’ll have a vast amount of illustrations and records about life on the Thames through time.
Oh, hang on, I do.
Hopefully this is just the start of this. While I research, you may be interested in knowing that the web master of Thames Angel is giving a walk on 20th September, 6pm from Temple Station.
No price quoted. It may be interesting to pop along.
See also: Angel of the Thames Hoax and the Brockley Connection
*It was the South London Press who brought us Brixton squirrels on crack.