Another historic City of London view, this one dates from 1677 when construction of this memorial to the Great Fire of London was completed.

Located just a stone’s throw from the site where the fire of 1666 apparently started (more on that in our earlier post), the 61 metre high Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke with a platform viewing platform set just below a stone drum and gilt copper urn from which flames emerge in a symbolic representation of the fire.

The viewing platform was intended as a place where Wren and Hooke could conduct experiments for the Royal Society (to this end, the Monument also features a laboratory in the cellar while its hollow shaft was designed to accommodate experiments with pendulums, its staircase steps measure exactly six inches high so they could be used in experiments on pressure and there is a trapdoor in the top of the orb to facilitate use of a telescope).

Vibrations caused by the traffic on Fish Street Hill, however, caused problems and so the idea was abandoned and the platform, located at a height of about 48.5 metres, was left to the public.

A mesh cage was added to the top in the mid 19th century, apparently as a preventative measure after a number of people had leapt from the top. The cage was replaced in 2008 as part of a major, £4.5 million, 18 month-long restoration of the Grade I-listed structure.

While people are welcome to climb the 311 steps to the top on a circular staircase that winds its way up the inside of the pillar to take in the views over the City and Thames (and about 100,000 d0 so each year, gaining themselves a special certificate for their efforts), for those who can’t make the climb, equipment enabling the streaming of live video images, taking in a 360 degree panorama from the top of the Monument, was installed as part of the restoration. These images can be accessed via the Monument’s website. The images, which take in the city, are updated every minute.

WHERE: The Monument, junction of Fish Street Hill and Monument Street (nearest Tube station is Monument); WHEN: 9.30am to 6pm daily (until October); COST: £4.50 adults/£2.30 children (aged five to 15)/£3 seniors (joint tickets with Tower Bridge available); WEBSITE: www.themonument.info

Top – Panoramic view from the top of The Monument taken in 2006; Below – The Monument. PICTURES: Top – Piotr Zarobkiewicz/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0/Below – David Adams

Knights-atop-the-columnStanding outside the Temple Church, in the west of the City of London (between Fleet Street and the River Thames), stands a pillar topped with a pair of Templar knights riding a horse in an obvious commemoration of the military order that once had its preceptory here.

But what many people don’t realise is that the column was also erected, apparently like the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, to commemorate another point where the all-consuming Great Fire of London was finally stopped.

The 10 metre high column was erected in 2000 (another of its purposes was to mark the millennium) in what was once the cloister courtyard of the headquarters of the Templars, which had originally founded to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land in 1119.

The bronze figures of the two men atop a single horse which caps the column was a representation of the image found on the order’s official. It represents the poverty of those who initially joined it – so poor they could only afford one horse for every two men, a situation which was to change dramatically in coming centuries as the order accumulated wealth, a situation which, eventually, in France, led to its downfall.

London Remembers reports that the column was designed in the gothic style, similar to the Purbeck marble columns in the church (which, incidentally, are said to be the oldest surviving free-standing examples of their kind) and deliberately made to contrast with the more florid column of Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument, which marks where the fire started and, also, according to a signboard, “the arrival of the new classical order”.

The column, designed by Ptolemy Dean, and the sculpture, designed by Nicola Hicks, were the gift of Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Treasurer of the Inner Temple in 1999. A Latin inscription around the base of the column reads: “Lest the Temple should be without a memorial of the start of the third millennium the Inner Temple caused this monument to be erected for the greater glory of God.”

For more on Temple and the Temple Church, see our earlier posts here and here and here.

This year marks 350 years since the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the City of London and to mark the anniversary, we’re today launching a new special series looking at some of the lesser known – and, in some cases, more unusual – memorials and plaques commemorating the event.

Thomas-Farriner-plaqueSure, everyone knows about The Monument near London Bridge erected to commemorate the event (see our earlier post on it here). But often overlooked is the plaque located in nearby Pudding Lane commemorating the site where the fire began in the early hours of 2nd September, 1666 – the bakery of Thomas Farriner (also variously spelt Faryner or Farynor).

The plaque, located close to the corner of Pudding Lane and Monument Street, was erected in 1986 by the Worshipful Company of Bakers to mark the anniversary of their Royal Charter being granted by King Henry VII some 500 years earlier. It reads (in part): “Near this site stood the shop belonging to Thomas Faryner, the King’s baker, in which the Great Fire of September 1666 began.”

While that fits with the long-held idea that the location of the bakery was 202 feet (61 metres) from the where the Monument stands, the same height of the memorial column itself, new research claims that the site of the bakery was not actually where Pudding Lane now stands but in nearby Monument Street instead.

Drawing on a planning document dating from 1679 and found within the London Metropolitan Archives, academic Dorian Gerhold reportedly cross-referenced the document with later maps and concluded that the baker’s oven was actually located on what is now Monument Street, 60 feet to the east of the intersection with Pudding Lane.

Farriner, meanwhile, was, as a king’s baker, a supplier to the Royal Navy. During the fire, the widower managed to escape the flames along with his three children (although their housemaid, unable or unwilling to escape out a window, perished). He was later able to rebuild the bakery and his home and when he died only a few years after the fire, left considerable sums to his children.

Incidentally, Farriner, his daughter Hanna and his son Thomas were all in the jury which convicted Frenchman Robert Hubert of starting the fire in their bakery by tossing a grenade in through the window (Hubert had confessed and, despite the fact that it’s believed few thought him actually guilty, he was convicted and hanged at Tyburn on 27th October, 1666, for the crime of arson.)

PICTURE: Steve James/Flickr/CC BY_NC-ND 2.0 (cropped and straightened)

This weekend London is once again taking part in the Museums at Night event (yes, this is the first year it’s being held over two weekends – the first was back in May). In honour of that milestone, we thought we’d take the time to list five of the quirkier places that are taking part this time around, either tonight or on Halloween itself…

The Marvellous Mysteries of Hackney Museum at Night. An interactive and “creative making” tour of the museum and local surroundings (be prepared for some walking!).

The Monument, City. Ascend the spiral staircase of 360 degree views of the City and hear stories about the Great Fire and its aftermath and Hookes’ telescopic column.

Osterley After DarkOsterley Park, Isleworth (pictured). Explore the Georgian house and discover some of the darker bits of Osterley’s 400-year-old history.

The Fan Museum, Greenwich. Take a look at its latest exhibition ‘Made in China’ which features a display of 8o fans and “traces the evolution of Chinese export fan design from its emergence toward the end of the seventeenth century to its eventual decline in the latter part of the nineteenth century”.

Severndroog Castle, Castle Wood. Take a candlelit tour on Halloween including the chance to take in the vistas from the viewing platform. The tearooms are also opening.

For details of all London events – some of which are free – check out www.museumsatnight.org.uk and search under ‘London’.

Armchair_for_Devonshire_House_ca._1733-40__Devonshire_Collection_Chatsworth._Reproduced_by_permission_of_Chatsworth_Settlement_Trustees._Photography_by_Bruce_WhiteThe life and work of William Kent, the leading architect and designer of early Georgian Britain, is the subject of a new exhibition opening at the V&A on Saturday. William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain covers the period 1709 to 1748 which coincides with the accession of the first Hanoverian King George I. the tercentenary of which is being celebrated this year. The display features more than 200 examples of Kent’s work – from architectural drawings for buildings such as the Treasury (1732-37) and Horse Guards (1745-59), to gilt furniture designed for Houghton Hall (1725-25) and Chiswick House (1745-38), landscape designs for Rousham (1738-41) and Stowe (c 1728-40 and c 1746-47) as well as paintings and illustrated books. The exhibition, the result of a collaboration between the Bard Graduate Center, New York City, and the V&A,  features newly commissioned documentary films and will have a section focusing on designs Kent created for the Hanovarian Royal family including those he produced for a Royal Barge for Frederick, the Prince of Wales (1732) and a library for Queen Caroline at St James’ Palace (1736-37). Runs until 13th July. Admission charge applies. See www.vam.ac.uk. PICTURE: Armchair for Devonshire House ca. 1733-40, © Devonshire Collection, Chatsworth. Reproduced by permission of Chatsworth Settlement Trustees.

A new City Visitor Trail has been unveiled by the City of London, taking visitors on a 90 minute self-guided tour of some of the City’s main attractions (or longer if you want to linger in some of the places on the itinerary). The trail – a map of which can be picked up from the City Information Centre – goes past iconic buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Guildhall, Mansion House, Monument, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge as well as lesser-known sites. As well as the main route, there’s also five specially themed routes – ‘Law and literature’, ‘London stories, London people’, ‘Culture Vulture’, ‘Skyscrapers and culture’, and ‘Market mile’ – and a City Children’s Trail, provided in partnership with Open City, which features three self-guided routes aimed at kids. As well as the map, the City has released an app – the City Visitor Trail app – which provides a commentary at some of the city’s main attractions which can either by read or listened to as it’s read by people closely associated with the locations (available for both iPhone and Android). For more, follow this link.

The works of the 16th century Venetian artist known as Veronese (real name Paolo Caliari) are being celebrated in a new exhibition, Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery. More than 50 of his works are featured in the display including two altarpieces never before seen outside Italy: The Martyrdom of Saint George (about 1565) from the church of San Giorgio in Braida, Verona, and The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine (1565-70) from the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice. Others include early works like The Supper at Emmaus (about 1565), the beautiful Portrait of a Gentleman (c 1555) and the artist’s last autograph work, the altarpiece for the high altar of San Pantalon in Venice (1587). Runs until 15th June. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.nationalgallery.org.uk.

Send all items of interest for inclusion to exploringlondon@gmail.com.

This central London thoroughfare runs through the heart of the City of London and has been a main thoroughfare since Roman times.

Gracechurch-StreetStretching from Eastcheap (near the Monument) to Leadenhall Street, the street runs over the site of what was Roman London’s forum and basilica (see our earlier post on the Roman buildings here).

The name, meanwhile, comes from the former medieval church of St Benet Gracechurch which was once located on the corner of Gracechurch and Fenchurch Streets.

The church, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 but rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren before finally being demolished in 1876, was named for St Benedict (St Benet is a short form) while Gracechurch – which was used after the Great Fire – was a corruption of Grasschurch, a reference to it being located near a hay market (in fact, the church was also known as St Benet Grass). The street was also known as Gracious Street.

Landmarks along Gracechurch Street including the Leadenhall Market (see our earlier post here) and a 30s-inspired modern building of note which stands at number 20.

PICTURE: Looking down Gracechurch Street toward the Monument.

For more on London’s Wren churches, see John Christopher’s Wren’s City of London Churches.

Located just off Liverpool Street in Old Broad Street in the City, The Lord Aberconway is named after the last chairman of the Metropolitan Railway Company, operator of the world’s first underground railway (keep an eye out for our extended piece on the history of the Underground later this week).

Lord-AberconwayCharles McLaren – Lord Aberconway – (1850-1934) was a landowner, industrialist and MP who was raised to the peerage in 1911, a year after he had left the House of Commons. He served as chairman of ‘The Met’ from 1904 to 1933.

While the current building – the interior of which features booths and an L-shaped bar – dates from the 19th century, there has been a pub on the site, close to Liverpool Street Station, for much longer and its previous names included the King and Keys and the Metropolitan Railway’s ‘Refreshment Room’ and ‘Railway Buffet’.

The pub, which stands not far from the Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London, is reputed to be haunted by victims of the fire (only four people are said to have officially died in the blaze but it’s believed the death toll would have actually been much higher). You’re more likely to see city traders there however.

The pub is now run by the Nicholson’s. For more on the Lord Aberconway, see www.nicholsonspubs.co.uk/thelordaberconwayliverpoolstreetlondon/.

So we come to the final in our series on Wren’s London. This week we take a quick look at some of Wren’s remaining London works (keep an eye out for our upcoming ‘daytripper’ on Oxford for some detail of his works there)…

• The Monument. Built between 1671-77 to commemorate the Great Fire of London, it was designed by Wren and Dr Robert Hooke. For further information, see our previous post.

The Temple Bar. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1672 to replace a crumbling wooden predecessor, it’s only recently been returned to the City and now stands adjacent to St Paul’s. For further information, see our previous post.

Churches. We’ve only looked in depth at a few of the existing churches Wren designed in London. But here are some of the others among the more than 50 he designed that still stand:

St Benet Paul’s Wharf. Originally completed in 1685, it claims to be the only “undamaged and unaltered” Wren church in the city, having survived World War II intact. Now the Welsh church of the City of London. See www.stbenetwelshchurch.org.uk.

St James Garlickhythe. Built according to Wren’s design, it was completed in 1682 (the tower not until 1717). It is known as ‘Wren’s Lantern’ due to its light interior. See www.stjamesgarlickhythe.org.uk.

St Margaret Pattens. Built between 1684 and 1687 after the previous church was destroyed in the Great Fire, the church gets its unusual name of ‘pattens’ from wooden undershoes that were worn to elevate people out of the mud, and were sold nearby. See www.stmargaretpattens.org.

• St Margaret Lothbury. Completed in 1692, it now incorporates seven adjacent parishes thanks to losses in the Great Fire, World War II and building projects and is now officially known as the parish church of “St Margaret Lothbury and St Stephen Coleman St with St Christopher-le-Stocks, St Bartholomew-by-the-Exchange, St Olave Old Jewry, St Martin Pomeroy, St Mildred Poultry and St Mary Colechurch.” See www.stml.org.uk.

St Martin-within-Ludgate. Rebuilding was largely completed by 1680. The previous church on the site was where William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was married. See www.stmartin-within-ludgate.org.uk.

Others, some of which have been rebuilt since Wren’s day, include St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, St Andrew Holborn, St Anne and St Agnes (Now St Anne’s Lutheran Church), St Clement Eastcheap, St Lawrence Jewry, St Mary Abchurch, St Mary Aldermary, Mary-le-Bow, St Michael, Cornhill, St Michael Paternoster Royal, St Nicholas Cole Abbey (being redeveloped as a centre for religious education), St Peter upon Cornhill, and St Vedast alias Foster. (We’ll be featuring some in more detail in later entries).

Around London…

July 20, 2010

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Ham House in south west London. Located on the south bank of the Thames, between Richmond and Kingston, the property was built for Sir James Vavasour, Knight Marshall to James I with later owners including William Murray, the ‘whipping boy’ of Charles I (that is, the boy who took Charles’ punishment if he was naughty – let’s hope they got on well!), and his daughter, Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart. To find out more about the property, now under the care of the National Trust, and how they’re celebrating the 400th anniversary, see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-hamhouse.

The former treasury in  the crypt beneath St Paul’s is hosting a new exhibition – Oculus: An Eye Into St Paul’s – which aims to bring 1400 years of the history of the church and surrounding streets of London to life through a 270 degree film experience. The film takes visitors from the streets of Saxon London in 604 AD when the first cathedral was constructed on the site to the its destruction in the Great Fire in 1666 and the days of the Blitz in World War II when it stood as a symbol of English defiance. The exhibition also opens up access of areas of the cathedral to the less mobile – with virtual tours of the dome including the Whispering Gallery and the view from the Golden Gallery. See www.stpauls.co.uk.

The Monument has won the City of London’s City Heritage Award for 2010. The city has recently spent £4.5 million in a restoration project which included a new balustrade on the viewing platform of the memorial to the Great Fire of 1666, regilding the flaming orb, and the installation of a real-time feed of the panoramic views from the top to web with updates every minute. See www.themonument.info.

The MonumentIt was a toss-up whether to include The Monument in this list but, surprisingly perhaps, there are still many visitors to London who overlook what is a unique site in the old city of London and a reminder of one of the key events which have shaped the city.

The tallest free-standing stone column in the world, it was built between 1671-77 to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666 and the subsequent rebuilding of the city. The fire broke out in a baker’s shop in nearby Pudding Lane on Sunday, 2nd September, 1666, and burned until the following Wednesday, destroying much of the city in the meantime (although, thankfully, there was actually little loss of life).

Sir Christopher Wren (architect of St Paul’s fame and then Surveyor-General to King Charles II) and Dr Robert Hooke (Surveyor to the City of London and Wren’s assistant) designed the memorial which is topped by a drum and copper urn from which flames are emerging and stands 61 metres above the ground and which, if toppled, reaches the point in Pudding Lane where the fire began.

A spiral stone staircase winds it way up the column’s middle to a platform where you can get come stunning views of the city (but be warned at 311 steps, it’s quite a climb, although at least since 1842 there’s been an iron railing around the platform).

The reliefs on the western side of the base shows Charles II in all his glory while inscriptions on the other three sides tell the story of the great fire (incidentally, the main inscription, was altered in 1681 to include the words “But Popish frenzy, which wrought such horrors, is not yet quenched” which were removed in 1831). The site is now owned by the City of London Corporation.

WHERE: Junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill (Nearest Tube station is Monument). WHEN: Daily (9.30am-5.30pm). COST: Adults £3/concessions £2/children £1. WEBSITE: www.themonument.info