On Thursday, 16 February, World Traders and their guests were treated to a visit to Temple Bar; the group was small as the chamber above the gate is itself technically not bigger than a board room.
We were hosted by Grant Smith who first gave us an entertaining and passionate talk on the history of Temple Bar. Temple Bar and the adjacent Paternoster Lodge now comprise the home for the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects and is the smallest of the Livery Halls in the City. While Temple Bar, a gate in effect, now sits between St Paul’s Cathedral and Paternoster Square in the heart of the City, it was only erected here in 2004.
The building originally stood for 200 years on Fleet Street at the boundary between the Cities of London and Westminster, and, alongside 7 other such gates, acted as a bar or barrier around the perimeter of the City of London. Temple Bar got its name due to being in the Temple area. There are mentions of a barrier, comprised of a chain, from the 1300s, which was then replaced by a wooden gate, which despite surviving the Great Fire of 1666, had fallen into disrepair. It was replaced in the 1700s by the Christopher Wren design that survives to this day, indeed the only surviving gateway to the City, as the rest were demolished.
Not as pleasant, in the 18th century, the heads and other body parts of traitors were displayed on iron spikes from the top of the arch.
By the time the Royal Courts of Justice were to be moved from Westminster Palace to their current location in the Strand, Temple Bar was too narrow to allow for the traffic passing underneath it, so in 1878 it was taken down, stone by stone, and carefully stored for a future re-erection. A wealthy family bought it and rebuilt it in their Hertfordshire estate ten years later.
Fast forward 100 years, and the Corporation of London agreed to fund the return of Temple Bar to the City; Temple Bar was again dismantled and rebuilt as a gateway to the central piazza at the Paternoster Square redevelopment.
The evening ended with pizza nearby. Sadly, the other and equally famous Temple Bar, in Dublin, was a bit too far to visit on the same day; perhaps for another trip!