Esoteric London

No. 677: St Pauls Churchyard, EC4

Posted in Architectural, Statues by esotericlondon on October 2, 2012

Temple Bar, St Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

From the plaque accompanying the Temple Bar in St Paul’s Churchyard:

Temple Bar is the only surviving gateway into the City of London and is the successor to the thirteenth century posts and chain, which marked the boundary between the ‘Liberties’ of London and the City of Westminster. It was erected in 1672 at the behest of King Charles II to replace a previous timber structure which had survived the Great Fire of London but was falling into disrepair.

This monument, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built by Joshua Marshall and Thomas Knight, with statues by John Bushnell, stood at the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand until 1878 when it was impeding both the flow of traffic and the construction of the Royal Courts of Justice. It was taken down stone by stone following a Resolution of the Court of Common Council on the 15 November 1877, with a view to it being re-erected elsewhere in the City.

Although there was strong public attachment to the Bar, for many years no place could be found for it in the City. In 1887 the brewer, Sir Henry Meux, acquired the stones from the Corporation of London and rebuilt the Bar as a gateway into his estate at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire. There it was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade I Listed Building, but over the years suffered continuing vandalism and deterioration until the Temple Bar Trust, founded by Sir Hugh Wontner in 1976, with the purpose of returning it to the City, purchased the stones from the Meux Trust. The Temple Bar Trust, after a long campaign, aided by City Livery Companies, Businesses and public donations, found this site and arranged for the return of the Bar. In 2001 the Court of Common Council of the Corporation of London resolved to accept the Bar as a gift from the Trust and to fund all costs of its removal and reconstruction. Work began immediately and was completed in November 2004.

[ To see what replaced the Bar in the middle of the road outside the Royal Courts of Justice see tomorrows post. R.D.]

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