Monument Street, London, EC3. Photo © Roger Dean 2013
London By Day and Night; or, Men and Things in the Great Metropolis – David W. Bartlett, 1851:
THE FIRE MONUMENT
The Fire Monument is one of the finest in the world. It commemorates the great London Fire, which occurred in the year 1666, or nearly two hundred years ago. The column stands upon the spot where the fire is supposed to have originated. It stands on Fish-street Hill, on the city side of London Bridge, and overlooks the whole metropolis, but especially the river with its many bridges, the gray old Tower, St. Paul’s, the Bank, and Royal Exchange. We visited the top of the monument one pleasant winter morning. A sixpence, admittance-fee, was demanded at the door, and we commenced the toilsome ascent through a worse than Egyptian darkness. Three hundred and forty-five steps brought us out into light and wholesome air on the summit. The sight was almost overpowering. The morning, though a winter one, was sunny, and the atmosphere of that peculiar clearness and purity only known when frost is in the sky; and scarcely ever, then, in London.
[The picture above is of the Latin inscription on the base of the Monument the translation of which reads:
CHARLES THE SECOND, SON OF CHARLES THE MARTYR, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE AND IRELAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, A MOST GRACIOUS PRINCE, COMMISERATING THE DEPLORABLE STATE OF THINGS, WHILST THE RUINS WERE YET SMOKING, PROVIDED FOR THE COMFORT OF HIS CITIZENS, AND THE ORNAMENT OF HIS CITY; REMITTED THEIR TAXES, AND REFERRED THE PETITIONS OF THE MAGISTRATES AND INHABITANTS OF LONDON TO THE PARLIAMENT; WHO IMMEDIATELY PASSED AN ACT, THAT PUBLIC WORKS SHOULD BE RESTORED TO A GREATER BEAUTY, WITH PUBLIC MONEY, TO BE RAISED BY AN IMPOSITION ON COALS; THAT CHURCHES, AND THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. PAUL’S, SHOULD BE REBUILT FROM THEIR FOUNDATIONS, WITH ALL MAGNIFICENCE; THAT THE BRIDGES, GATES, AND PRISONS SHOULD BE NEW MADE, THE SEWERS CLEANSED, THE STREETS MADE STRAIGHT AND REGULAR, SUCH AS WERE STEEP LEVELLED AND THOSE TOO NARROW MADE WIDER, MARKETS AND SHAMBLES REMOVED TO SEPARATE PLACES. THEY ALSO ENACTED, THAT EVERY HOUSE SHOULD BE BUILT WITH PARTY-WALLS, AND ALL RAISED OF AN EQUAL HEIGHT IN FRONT, AND THAT ALL HOUSE WALLS SHOULD BE STRENGTHENED WITH STONE OR BRICK; AND THAT NO MAN SHOULD DELAY BUILDING BEYOND THE SPACE OF SEVEN YEARS. FURTHERMORE, HE PROCURED AN ACT TO SETTLE BEFOREHAND SUITS WHICH SHOULD ARISE RESPECTING BOUNDARIES, HE ALSO ESTABLISHED AN ANNUAL SERVICE OF INTERCESSION, AND CAUSED THIS COLUMN TO BE ERECTED AS A PERPETUAL MEMORIAL TO POSTERITY. HASTE IS SEEN EVERYWHERE, LONDON RISES AGAIN, WHETHER WITH GREATER SPEED OR GREATER MAGNIFICENCE IS DOUBTFUL, THREE SHORT YEARS COMPLETE THAT WHICH WAS CONSIDERED THE WORK OF AN AGE.