Monday, September 25, 2017

Temple Bar Returns

Monday, September 25, 2017
Loretta reports:

In Dukes Prefer Blondes, I mention Temple Bar, a gateway that stood where Fleet Street meets the Strand. Through it have passed, along with the usual traffic, monarchs dead and alive. On the main arch, on iron spikes, traitors’ heads were on display.

The structure still exists, as I set out to prove to my satisfaction during my stay in London, and this existence, to me, is a miracle. It is London’s only surviving gateway, and the story of its survival includes a trip to Hertfordshire.

Built in 1672, the time of King Charles II, it was taken down, stone by stone, in 1878, because it was in the way. It had for years obstructed traffic, and now it was hampering construction of the Royal Courts of Justice. Unlike other historical structures, though, Temple Bar was saved from complete destruction. The stones weren’t carried off and used to build something else. They were saved, in hopes of a restoration. Nobody quite worked out how to do this, though.
Then, ten years later, at his wife’s instigation, Sir Henry Meux bought the 400 tons of stone from the Corporation of London and rebuilt Temple Bar as a gateway into his estate at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire. Apparently, it did the trick of enhancing Lady Meux’s social status, as she’d hoped: It’s believed that she dined in its upper chamber with, among other notables, the Prince of Wales and Winston Churchill.

Temple Bar remained at Theobolds Park until 2004, when it returned to London, to be reassembled, stone by stone, in Paternoster Square.

The History of Temple Bar site and the Wikipedia entry will offer you more details. I offer some pictures.

All images: Photo copyright © 2017 Walter M. Henritze III
Clicking on the image will enlarge it.


Hels said...

Why did Temple Bar not remain at Theobolds Park for ever?

I can see why the City would want it to be returned to London and be reassembled. But perhaps Sir Henry Meux's children and grandchildren didn't like it as much as Henry and his wife did.

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