Statues and Monuments: Temple Bar

Posted: March 21, 2016 in History, London, UK


Temple Bar in Fleet St c 1845

Temple Bar in Fleet St c 1845

The history of Temple Bar dates back to around 1290 when the City of London sought to regulate trade into the city area. It established a number of entrance points around the periphery of the city and erected barriers to control access. One of these was at the junction of modern day Fleet St and Strand at the boundary between the City of London and the City of Westminster. It is likely that in its earliest form this just consisted of posts and a chain. By 1350 this had been replaced by a wooden archway which also housed a prison above the arch.

This gateway escaped the Great Fire of London but was redesigned and rebuilt by Christopher Wren as part of his post-fire redevelopment in 1689-72.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar

It was the last of the city gateways to survive as by 1800 the other 6 had all been demolished as the increasing levels of traffic on London’s streets were finding them an obstruction. In 1874 structural problems were found in the arch and it had to be shored up with timber. In 1878 the decision was taken to remove the arch, but the city council were reluctant to destroy this piece of London history, so it was carefully dismantled and put into storage. In 1880 it was sold to Henry Meux and re-erected as the gatehouse to his mansion at Theobalds Park. The Meux family trust sold the estate in 1938, but retained ownership of the gatehouse until 1984 when they sold it to the Temple Bar Trust, whose aim was to re-locate it back into the city. The opportunity for this came with the redevelopment of Paternoster Sq, adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral. The Temple Bar was once again dismantled and re-erected at the entrance to the square adjacent to the Cathedral, another of Wren’s creations.




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