I spent New Year's Day walking around London on a guided tour to track down the seven noses of Soho. The tours to see the Seven Noses of Soho are held a few times throughout the year by qualified guide Peter Berthoud, and the tours are small in size (a maximum of ten people) to allow everyone to mingle, and we were lucky to be in a nice group. The Seven Noses tour on New Year's Day is special in that it also includes stops at various pubs that have decided to open on the day. Viewing the seven noses is also meant to bring infinite wealth, but the wealth may not include money; it may be in the form of money, happiness, health, love, cats, or something else.
Many myths have surrounded the noses before learning in 2011 who the artist was and why they were placed on the walls. The artist is Rick Buckley, and in 1997, he added around 35 noses to buildings in London, including high-profile buildings such as South Bank Centre, the Tate, and National Gallery. The noses are a cast of his own and created with Plaster of Paris and polymer and usually painted to match the wall placed on. The reason for them is that the artist saw them as a form of silent protest against the increase of CCTV cameras; he wanted to see if he could add them without being caught. Essentially, they are a form of street art, such as Space Invader or Gregos's masks.
Today, only about ten of the noses exist. Seven of these are located in (or near) Soho, and there's also meant to be one at St. Pancras, two at Hayward Gallery, and one at South Bank walkway. We saw the seven original ones by Rick Buckley around Soho, an ear, and a bonus nose that has nothing to do with Rick Buckley.
The most famous nose is located on the Admirality Arch, and the myth was that it was modelled on Napoleon's and rubbed by horse-riders for good luck. This one is commonly known, but I am going to keep the other locations secret. You'll just have to go on the tour.
The first sculpture that we spotted was the ear on the side of a building. This was put up by Tim Fishlock. There are a few more ear sculptures around London.
We were also provided with chocolates to begin our walking tour.
On the tour, we came across a sculpture set into the side of a building. We were told that these are from the London Guild (livery company) of Mercers (traders). They had a similar sculpture (called Mercers' Maidens) on each of their buildings.
Around the corner was our first pub visit, the Cross Keys. I've been to this pub before, but it was packed. When we visited, it was virtually empty. We were able to sit at a table and have drinks and chat. The pub is decorated for the holidays, and we saw items signed by the Beatles and Elvis hanging on the wall.
We then came across the bonus nose in Soho. This is not one of the original noses by Buckley. In fact, we were told that the person behind this nose was on one of the other tours. The nose was placed on the wall because of a dispute with the council over building work.
After hunting down more noses and being disappointed by a lot of pubs being shut that we'd hoped to visit, we eventually ended up next to Liberty Department store where it was quite busy. However, we managed to have a 'standing' drink and chat in The Clachan.
Some of the pubs we visited had specialist ales and other drinks and they're perfect for a quick stop and to try something different. Unfortunately, I'm not a drinker of ale/beer/cider, so these eludes me a bit. But if you are a drinker of these, then you won't be disappointed. I did, however, have a glass of fizz.
After walking further and seeing more noses, we ended up in Tom Cribb pub. This pub is named after a boxer and contained a lot of specialist drinks.
The tour ended near Trafalgar Square, but a few of us headed off to Walkers Wine & Ale Bar not far away. There was a lot of room in the basement of the bar, and we were able to chat longer before heading home.
We really enjoyed our tour around London to the pubs and to see the Seven Noses of Soho and I recommend it. For more information about this tour, other London tours, and to book the tour, view the EventBrite page here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/discovering-london-with-peter-berthoud-2311088161