The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 30 The City To The East Of The Bank


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To the left of King William St., farther on, in Fish St. Hill, rises the Monument, a fluted Doric column, 202 feet high, erected from the designs of Wren in 1671-77, to commemorate the Great Fire of London, which broke out on September 2nd, 1666, in Pudding Lane, at a point alleged to be exactly 202 feet from the Monument. Visitors may ascend by a winding staircase (open 9-6, in winter 9-4; admission 3d.) to the top of the Monument, which commands a wide and striking view. Wren, who had lectured on astronomy at Gresham College, intended the column to serve as a vertical telescope tube, but the height proved insufficient for the focal length. The flaming gilt urn surmounting the Monument is 42 feet high. On the pedestal are inscriptions and an allegorical relief by C. G. Cibber. The four dragons are by Edward Pierce. The cage enclosing the platform was added to prevent suicides. The falsehood of the inscription of 1681, attributing the fire to the Papists, gave rise to Pope's familiar lines: - 'Where London's column, pointing at the skies, Like a tall bully, lifts the head and lies.' A little farther on King William St. crosses a viaduct over Thames St. and ends at London Bridge. To the right, rising from the lower level of Upper Thames St., stands FISHMONGERS' HALL, erected by Henry Roberta in 1831-33, on the site of an earlier building. The facade is turned towards the river; the main entrance is on the level of London Bridge. The Fishmongers' Company is one of the richest as well as one of the oldest of the twelve great livery companies. Its origin is lost in remote antiquity, but it is unquestionable that the Company existed prior to the reign of Henry II. (1154-89), though its earliest charter dates from the reign of Edward III. (1364). The Fishmongers' Company has and exercises the charter right to 'enter and seize bad fish,' and it employs six inspectors to examine all fish on the market. It has the control of the race for Doggett's Coat and Badge. The interior (visitors sometimes admitted) contains several objects of interest. The great hall is full of wood-carvings and coats-of-arms. On the staircase is a painted wooden figure of Sir William Walworth, the Mayor who killed Wat Tyler in 1381. The actual dagger he used is shown. A richly embroidered pall of the Tudor period deserves attention. In one of the rooms is a chair made (in 1832) out of the first pile driven in the construction of Old London Bridge, believed to have been under water for 650 years. Among the portraits are those of the Margrave and Margravine of Anspach (by Romney), William III. and Queen Mary (by Murray), George II. and Queen Caroline (by Shackleton), Queen Victoria (by Herbert Smith), and Admiral St. Vincent (by Beechey).