Temple Bar was the principal ceremonial entrance to the City of London on its western side from the City of Westminster.
Temple Bar is situated on the historic royal ceremonial route from the Tower of London to the Palace of Westminster , the two chief residences of the medieval English monarchs, and from the Palace of Westminster to St Paul's Cathedral. The 19th century Royal Courts of Justice are located next to it on its north side, having been moved from Westminster Hall. As the most important entrance to the City of London from Westminster, it was formerly long the custom for the monarch to halt at Temple Bar before entering the City of London, in order for the Lord Mayor to offer the Corporation's pearl-encrusted Sword of State as a token of loyalty.
The term 'Temple Bar' strictly refers to a notional bar or barrier across the route, but it is commonly used to refer to the 17th-century ornamental Baroque arched gateway designed by Christopher Wren , which spanned the road until its removal in A memorial pedestal topped by a dragon symbol of London, and containing an image of Queen Victoria , was erected to mark the bar's location in In the Middle Ages , the authority of the City of London Corporation reached beyond the City's ancient defensive walls in several places, known as the Liberties of London.
To regulate trade into the City, barriers were erected on the major entrance routes wherever the true boundary was a substantial distance from the nearest ancient gatehouse in the walls. Temple Bar was the most used of these, since traffic between the City of London England's prime commercial centre and the Palace of Westminster the political centre passed through it. It was originally located where Fleet Street now meets The Strand, which was actually outside the London boundary wall.
Its name derives from the Temple Church , adjoining to the south, which has given its name to a wider area south of Fleet Street, the Temple , once belonging to the Knights Templar but now home to two of the legal profession's Inns of Court. The historic ceremony of the monarch halting at Temple Bar and being met by the Lord Mayor has often featured in art and literature. It is commented on in televised coverage of modern-day royal ceremonial processions.
The City of London's own website describes the ceremony as:. The Temple Bar ceremony, which is still occasionally re-enacted at a monument to the Bar, involves the monarch stopping to request permission to enter the City and the Lord Mayor presenting the Sword of State as a sign of loyalty. A bar is first mentioned in and was probably only a chain or bar between a row of posts. After the Battle of Evesham of , Prince Edward punished the rebellious Londoners, who had befriended Montfort, by taking away all their street chains and bars, and storing them in the Tower of London.
The earliest known documentary and historical notice of Temple Bar is in , concerning a hearing before the mayor regarding a right of way in the area.
On 5 November , the corpse of Henry V was borne to Westminster Abbey by the chief citizens and nobles, and every doorway from Southwark to Temple Bar had a torch-bearer.
Anne Boleyn passed through the Bar on May 31, , the day before her coronation, on her way to the Tower. On that occasion Temple Bar was new painted and repaired, and near it stood singing men and children—the Fleet Street conduit all the time running claret.
When he had fought his way down Piccadilly to The Strand, Temple Bar was thrown open to him, or forced open by him; but when he had been repulsed at Ludgate he was hemmed in by cavalry at Temple Bar, where he surrendered.
This revolt persuaded the government to go through with the verdict against Lady Jane Grey. Although it escaped damage by the Great Fire of London of , it was rebuilt as part of the general improvement works made throughout the City after that devastating event.
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Rusticated , it is a two-story structure consisting of one wide central arch for the road traffic, flanked on both sides by narrower arches for pedestrians. The other seven principal gateways to London, Ludgate , Newgate , Aldersgate , Cripplegate , Moorgate , Bishopsgate and Aldgate were all demolished in the s, but Temple Bar remained despite its impediment to the ever-growing traffic.
In the Bleak House , Charles Dickens described it as "that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation".
It was also the subject of jokes, "Why is Temple Bar like a lady's veil? Both must be raised razed for "busses". It was noted in jest "as a weak spot in our defenses", since one could walk through the adjoining barbershop where one door opened on to the City and the other in the area of Westminster.
In it was discovered that the keystones had dropped and the arches were propped up with timbers. The steady increase in horse and cart traffic led to complaints that Temple Bar was becoming a bottleneck, holding back the City trade.
In the City of London Corporation , eager to widen the road but unwilling to destroy so historic a monument, dismantled it piece-by-piece over an day period and stored its 2, stones carefully.
In the brewer Henry Meux , at the instigation of his wife Valerie Susan Meux , bought the stones and re-erected the arch as the facade of a new gatehouse in the park of his mansion house Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire, the site of a former substantial prodigy house of James VI and I.
There it remained, positioned in a woodland clearing, until A plaque marks the site where Temple Bar once stood. Temple Bar Gate at Theobalds Park , In it was returned to the City of London where it was painstakingly re-erected as an entrance to the Paternoster Square redevelopment immediately north of St Paul's Cathedral , opening to the public on 10 November Following the demolition of Wren's gateway, Horace Jones , Architect and Surveyor to the City of London, designed a memorial to mark Temple Bar, which was unveiled in The elaborate pedestal in a neo-Renaissance style serves as the base for a sculpture by Charles Bell Birch of a dragon supporter sometimes erroneously referred to as a griffin bearing a shield of the arms of the City of London.
The pedestal is decorated with statues by Joseph Boehm of Queen Victoria and her son the Prince of Wales , the last royals to have entered the City through Wren's gate, which event is depicted in one of the reliefs which also decorate the structure. In the s, similar but smaller and more subdued dragon sculptures were set at other entry points to the City.
London’s Temple Bar
Two were originally created in by J. Bunning for the entrance to the Coal Exchange and were relocated to Victoria Embankment following that building's demolition in , while the others are smaller-scale versions of Bunning's design.
Whilst critiquing the moral poverty of late 18th-century London, Dickens wrote that in matters of crime and punishment, "putting to death was a recipe much in vogue," and illustrated the horror caused by severed heads "exposed on Temple Bar with an insensate brutality and ferocity In Herman Melville 's The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids , he contrasts the beauty of the Temple Bar gateway with the highest point on the road leading to the hellish paper factory, which he calls a "Dantean Gateway" in his Inferno , Dante describes the gateway to Hell , over which are written the words, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
The dragon on top of the Temple Bar monument comes to life in Charlie Fletcher 's children's book about London, Stoneheart.
The dragon also features in Virginia Woolf 's The Years , in which one of the main characters, Martin, points "at the splayed-out figure at Temple Bar; it looked as ridiculous as usual — something between a serpent and a fowl.
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Temple Bar Memorial Dragon
Archived from the original on 30 March Retrieved 1 August Andrew Millar Project. University of Edinburgh".
Retrieved 3 June Stanford University. Retrieved 14 October Harper's Magazine.
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