The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 19 From Charing Cross To St Paul's Cathedral

Temple Bar

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Opposite the south-east angle of the Law Courts stands the Temple Bar Memorial, where the Strand ends and Fleet Street and the City begin. The memorial was erected in 1880 on the site of old Temple Bar (see below), and has statues of Queen Victoria and Edward VII. (as Prince of Wales) by Boehm. The bronze �griffin� is by C. B. Birch. Temple Bar was erected by Wren in 1672, after the Great Fire, but its wooden predecessor is known to have stood here in 1502, and some kind of a bar or chain, on the boundary between Westminster and the City proper, seems to have existed as far back as the 12th century. Wren's gate was adorned with statues of Charles I., Charles II., Queen Anne of Denmark, and James I., in niches, divided by pilasters, facing east and west. Over the arch was a small room, long occupied by Child's Bank (see below). From the top of the gate projected a number of iron spikes, on which were exhibited the heads of felons and traitors (e.g. those of the rebels of 1745). It was the sight of these that suggested Goldsmith's witty rejoinder to Samuel Johnson in repeating the Latin line �Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebituristis,� which the latter had previously quoted in the Poets� Corner at Westminster Abbey. The gate was taken down in 1878, as an obstacle to traffic, and ten years later was re-erected by Sir Henry Meux at an entrance to Theobalds Park. When the sovereign of England visits the City on state occasions, the ancient custom of obtaining permission from the Lord Mayor �to pass Temple Bar� is still observed.