"Temple Bar" Paternoster Square Tip by wabat
Paternoster Square, London: 15 reviews and 35 photos
Access to Middle Ages City of London was via one of a number of barriers/gates set up to control movement and regulate traffic into the City and protect trade within the City.
Probably the best known of these was the Temple Bar located where Fleet Street, City of London, became the Strand, Westminster. The Bar takes its name from the near-by Temple Church which had, by then, given its name to the surrounding area now home of two of the legal professions Inns of the Court.
The original Temple Bar, thought to have been a chain or bar across the road, is first mentioned in 1293. Over time the bar became more formal and by the late Middle Ages a wooden archway – complete with prison on top - was to be found here.
While the Temple Bar escaped damage in the 1666 fire of London it was replaced with the current and most famous Portland stone arch, believed (though not proven) to have been designed by Sir Christopher Wren and constructed between 1669 and 1672.
In addition to being a City of London entrance, during the late 17th and 18th centuries, the Bar was on occasion used as a pillory (Titus Oates and Daniel Defoe being victims) and became ‘the dreaded Golgotha of English traitors’ with numerous heads mounted on pikes and exhibited on the roof. The last heads to be so displayed were those of Towneley and Fletcher from the Siege of Carlisle in 1746. Horace Walpole, writing to a friend a few days later, wrote about how he had just been roaming in the City, and "passed under the new heads on Temple Bar, where people make a trade of letting spy-glasses at a halfpenny a look."
Traditionally and indeed occasionally still, monarchs wishing to enter the City of London would stop at the Bar ( or the Memorial replacing it today) and seek permission from the Lord Mayor to enter the City.
By the 1800 Temple Bar was the only one of seven principal gateways still in place (three were lost in the 1666 fire). In 1878, not wanting to destroy Wren’s historic monument but needing to remove it from its then current location to ease a traffic bottleneck the City of London Corporation dismantled the bar stone by stone and put the 2500 plus stones in to storage.
In 1880 the bar was purchased, at the behest of his banjo playing, barmaid wife determined to convince high society London of her respectability, by wealthy brewer Henry Meux and re-erected as a gateway to his country estate, Theobalds Park, in Hertfordshire. Lady Meux’s ruse worked and it is believed that she dined with Edward VII, the Prince of Wales and Winston Churchill in the room atop the Temple Bar. It remained at Theobalds Park until 2003 when the Temple Bar Trust had it dismantled once again and returned to London in 2004 as an entrance to Paternoster Square (adjacent to the north west Tower of St Paul’s Cathedral) where you see it today. The upper room is not open to visitors – unless you rent it out for a function. You are at liberty to use rather overpriced toilets in the Bar’s modern day basement!
Address: Paternoster Square
Directions: Adjacent to the north west Tower of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Closest Tube: St Paul's
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