This miniature sculpture may be a memorial to a tragic fall from a construction site. Evidence to support this story is hard to find, as are the tiny mice.
The tale of the Philpot Lane Mice goes like this:
Two men were working on a construction project. Some reports say that they were high above the street, helping finish the towering Monument to the Great Fire of London. (The Monument, which was completed in 1677, is about 400 feet away from the sculpted mice.)
Monument to the Great Fire of London (1671-77), designed by Sir Christopher Wren
Source: Eluveitie – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Others say the workmen were constructing 23 Eastcheap, the building on which the mice sit, which was finished in 1862.
One day, wherever they were, one of the men noticed that his lunch had been partially devoured. He blamed his co-worker, who denied touching the sandwich. According to legend, a scuffle ensued, and both men fell to their deaths. Later it was somehow determined that mice were actually the culprits.
Source: Matt Brown / Flickr
The two Philpot Lane Mice, sharing a chunk of cheese, are said to memorialize this tragic – and probably fictitious – misunderstanding. Who added them, and when, is a mystery.
Philpot Lane Mice
Date: c. 1862(?)
Location: 23 Eastcheap, London EC3