Walk around the streets of the City of London and it’s hard to miss the myriad of plaques commemorating many buildings lost in the Great Fire of London. On the Strand, however, can be found a plaque which commemorates a building that survived the fire.

strand-buildingLocated at 230 Strand (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice), the narrow four storey building, complete with projecting second floor, dates from 1625 and was apparently originally built as the home of the gatekeeper of Temple Bar.

According to the sign upon it, the now Grade II* building was the only structure on the Strand to survive the fire of 1666.

Now a rather plain-looking building, it has been much altered over the years and for much of the 20th century housed the Wig and Pen Club for journalists and lawyers – running from at least 1908, it closed in 2003.

Along with the late 17th century building next door (the two are pictured above with number 230 on the right), it’s now part of a Thai restaurant.

PICTURE: Google Street View

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Last Saturday saw the running of the Lord Mayor’s Show in London – the 799th year the event has been held. So we thought it was a good time to take a look at the office perhaps most famously associated with the annual running of the show (with the exception of the new Lord Mayor, of course) – the Pageantmaster.

The office dates back to at least the mid 16th century – some sources record Richard Baker of the Painter-Stainers Company as being the first to be given the role in 1566. It involves organising the annual grand three-and-a-half mile long procession of the new Lord Mayor (in this case Alan Yarrow) from Mansion House via St Paul’s Cathedral to the Royal Courts of Justice at Temple Bar (and then back again along Victoria Embankment).

The current Pageantmaster, Dominic Reid, took on the role in 1992 following the death of his father John who had carried out the role for the 20 years previously. Pageantmaster Court in the city was named for the role in the early 1990s (it had formerly been known as Ludgate Court). Mr Reid, an architect and soldier, is now the longest serving Pageantmaster in history – his father had held that title before him and before that the record had apparently been held by one Thomas Jourdan who managed 14 shows between 1671-85.

Mr Reid, who like his father before him has been awarded an OBE for his work on the Show, said at a Gresham College lecture in 2011 that as Pageantmaster, he is “responsible for all aspects of the design, organisation and production of the Lord Mayor’s Show. In this role I am the agent of the Senior Alderman below the Chair, and I am employed as a consultant to Lord Mayor’s Show Ltd the not for profit company limited by guarantee that puts on the show.”

The role is now so big – involving more than 7,000 participants, 20 bands, 150 horses and hundreds of vehicles – that it now reportedly takes the Pageantmaster a good nine months to organise all the details.

The Pageantmaster himself takes part each year in the procession and while he has apparently previously ridden a horse, he can now be seen standing on the back of a ceremonial City of London vehicle.

For more of the history of the Lord Mayor’s Show, see our previous entries on Gog and Magog and the State Coach or the official website www.lordmayorsshow.london.

Famous as the home of the Apollo Club, the Devil – more completely the Devil and St Dunstan or The Devil and the Saint, thanks to its sign which showed the saint tweaking the Devil’s nose with pincers – was a Fleet Street institution.

The-Devil-TavernLocated at number 2, Fleet Street close to the Temple Bar, the tavern’s origins date back to at least 16th century but it was Elizabethan playwright Ben Jonson who made it home to the literary dining club known as the Apollo Club (the moniker comes from the name of the room in the tavern in which the club was located).

As well as Jonson, members of the club are said to have included William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and Dr Samuel Johnson. Samuel Pepys is also said to have frequented the tavern.

A bust of Apollo was mounted over the door to the room and a verse of welcome on the wall – they apparently still exist inside the bank of Child & Co (now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland) which now occupies the site on which the tavern once stood. The ‘rules’ of the club – which have been penned by Jonson – also apparently hung over the fireplace (and the name of the club lives on in Apollo Court over the road).

The tavern is also noted for its associations with ‘Mull Sack’ (aka chimney sweep turned 17th century highwayman John Cottington) and hosted concerts and other important gatherings including that of the Royal Society which held its annual dinner here in 1746.

It was demolished in the 1787 when the site was annexed by the neighbouring bank. A plaque can now be seen on the bank’s wall in Fleet Street.

PICTURE: Open Plaques

While it may not be the oldest (that remains a matter of some dispute), we can say that one of London’s oldest banks stands at 1 Fleet Street.

Child & Co’s origins go back to the mid-1600s when Francis Child entered into a partnership with Robert Blanchard to run a goldsmith’s business. In 1673, the business, now known as Blanchard & Child moved to the premises it now occupies.

Child later married Blanchard’s step-daughter and on Blanchard’s death in 1681, he inherited the entire company, renaming it Child & Co (knighted in 1689, Child later served as a Lord Mayor of London and as an MP) and in 1698 was appointed “jeweller in ordinary” to King William III.

Following Child’s death in 1713, his sons continued the business, transforming it into a bank. It’s first banknote was issued in 1729.

The bank passed into the ownership of the Earls of Jersey in the mid-1800s and in 1880, following the removal of the Temple Bar gate, rebuilt its premises.

The bank, which at one stage had a branch in Oxford, was later sold to London-based commercial bank Glyn, Mills, Currie, Holt & Co and this in turn was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland. They remain the current owners.

Interestingly, the bank is said to be the model for Tellson’s Bank in Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

For a book on the financial history of the City of London, check out David Kynaston’s City of London: The History: 1815-2000.

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).

Temple Bar, LondonIt’s been a while since I was in London so I was delighted to find that the Temple Bar had been restored (not to its original site, but to the city as a whole!). The only surviving gateway into the city of London, it was constructed in 1672 to replace a crumbling wooden predecessor and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren (he of St Paul’s fame). The Temple Bar stood at the junction of Fleet Street and the Strand until 1878 when, to help traffic flow, it was removed. Apparently it was intended that it would be rebuilt somewhere else in the city, but time passed and no suitable site was found, so it eventually ended up on an estate in Hertfordshire. Where it remained until 2004 when – thanks to the work of the Temple Bar Trust – it was able to be returned to the city – it is now located between St Paul’s and Paternoster Square – for all to now enjoy.

WHERE: Between Paternoster Square and St Paul’s Cathedral. Nearest tube station is St Paul’s. COST: Free to see (actual building not open to public). WEBSITE: www.thetemplebar.info.

The Temple Bar isn’t the only ‘monument’, for want of a better word, which has been relocated in London. Another is the Wellington Arch, a magnificent structure which was originally finished (though not really completed) in 1830. Then known as the Green Park Arch, it stood parallel with the Hyde Park Screen (it was created to be seen in conjunction with it) and was later adorned with a huge – and controversial – statue of Wellington. But by the 1880s, traffic flow was again a problem and so it was decided to move the arch to its current location, perpendicular to the Hyde Park Screen. As a footnote, when the arch was moved in 1883, the statue of Wellington was not placed back on top but moved to a new site – Aldershot, where it is now.

WHERE: Grosvenor Place, Westminster, SW1X 7. Nearest tube station is Hyde Park Corner. COST: Adults £3.70/child £1.90 (English Heritage members free – there is a joint offer for others combined with Apsley House). WEBSITE: www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wellington-arch/.