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Temple Bar's history


TEMPLE Bar is the only remaining gateway to the City of London.The others - Aldgate, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate, Ludgate, Moorgate and Newgate - were demolished at the end of the 18th century and survive only in the street names they leave behind.

Originally located where Fleet Street meets the Strand, there has been a gate of one kind or another at Temple Bar since 1293.One gate was damaged during the Peasant's Revolt in 1381. Celebrating the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, Queen Elizabeth I was carried through the Bar in a triumphal chariot.

During the 18th century, the heads of traitors were mounted on pikes and exhibited on the roof.

The current stone gateway was built between 1669 and 1672, commissioned by Charles II and designed by Sir Christopher Wren.The King was so keen for the Bar to be rebuilt that he donated money to the project.

This may go some way to explaining why nearly a third of the £1,500 total cost of the gate was spent on four regal statues (one of himself ), each one and a half times life-size.

By the 19th century traffic had increased and the narrow Bar was creating a bottleneck.The Corporation of London decided it had to be removed and in 1878 it was taken down.

Two years later, a wealthy brewer, Sir Henry Meux, bought Temple Bar as a present for his new wife - he had married a barmaid amid much scandal.The couple rebuilt the Bar in the grounds of the ancestral pile in Hertfordshire and impressed their guests by entertaining in the room above the gatehouse.

The Bar eventually fell into disrepair and suffered considerable water damage.The Temple Bar Trust, set up in 1976, campaigned to rescue the gateway, and bought it from the Meux Trust for £1 in 1984.