Richmond Avenue is one of the swishest streets in Islington, and a dozen or so of the houses there feature an architectural embellishment that even the difficult-to-astonish Nikolaus Pevsner describes as 'astonishing'.
They have marvellous black obelisks and sphinxes either side of the porch. I can't think of any residential street in London with anything which remotely matches this.
These Egyptian flourishes celebrate the Battle of the Nile of 1798, when the British navy won a decisive victory over the French at Aboukir Bay, close to the Nile delta.
Richmond Avenue wasn't built, however, until 1841 - and these splendid touches of the desert were the work of the architect Joseph Kay. He is remembered not so much for this eccentricity but for his work on the lay-out of Greenwich and of the centre of Hastings.
Not all the originals are still in place. Some houses have lost the obelisks but kept the sphinxes. One or two have installed replicas of the originals. And a neighbour vouchsafed to me that the sphinx with the painted eyes is not as Kay intended - though it does look, well, eye-catching, doesn't it?
At various times, there has been almost an Egypto-mania in architecture, most obviously expressed in the Carreras (or Black Cat) factory in Camden. But it's not often that residential architecture gets caught up in such passing enthusiasms. Richmond Avenue is something special!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!