Skip to comments.London's Last Ancient City Gate Set To Return
Posted on 07/27/2003 4:55:53 PM PDT by blam
London's Last Ancient City Gate Set to Return
Wed July 9, 2003 11:19 AM ET
By F. Brinley Bruton
LONDON (Reuters) - The last of the City of London's ancient perimeter gates is to return to the capital after more than a century in ignominious exile.
Temple Bar -- an elaborate stone archway complete with spikes for traitors' heads -- will become a feature of a new development near St Paul's Cathedral, just half a mile from its original site.
"It was a very important landmark that simply got lost," said John Ansell, administrator of Temple Bar Trust, set up to return it to London.
Finished in 1672, the gate stood on the original Temple Bar site on The Strand, the artery joining Westminster, the seat of political power, and London's financial center, The City.
A huge, monolithic structure, adorned with statues around its central archway, it was designed by Christopher Wren and carved from creamy Portland stone.
But as the years passed, building fashions changed and by the time architects were planning the nearby Courts of Justice in the 19th Century, it looked plain obsolete.
So the structure was demolished, stone by stone and sold to Sir Henry Meux, a brewer, who erected it in the form of a gateway to his park and mansion house at Theobalds, to the north of London.
That estate in turn disintegrated and now Temple Bar sits alone in the woods, caked with ivy and algae, its statues hidden from vandals.
Temple Bar was one among many gates, like Aldgate, Bishopsgate and Moorgate, which marked entrances in the old Roman wall around the City of London.
Documents from 1293 mention "the Bar at the New Temple," which was probably no more than two posts linked by a chain. A wooden building was erected about 50 years later.
The gate welcomed the Black Prince, Edward of Wales, who rode through it with his captive, the King of France, after the battle of Poitiers in 1356.
A triumphal Queen Elizabeth I rode by chariot through Temple Bar on her way to a thanksgiving service after her navy defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.
But not all its history was glorious.
The gate housed an infamous jail and there was often a plentiful supply of heads to impale on the gory spikes.
Cleaning up the gate and moving it back home will take an estimated 18 months.
George Galloway was not available for comment.
The photo was taken sometime in late Victorian times, and Temple Bar was ancient even then - it predated the Great Fire although largely reconstructed in 1672.
People still complain about the pillar that they put up in place of it.
And here is the location of the gate at present:
Never mind, I should have read further before responding.
We need something like this in baghdad and Washington.
- Benjamin Franklin