March sees the 300th anniversary of the death of Sir Christopher Wren. His architectural vision for the regeneration of London after the notorious ‘Great Fire’ of 1666 led not only to the creation of St Paul’s Cathedral but also to the construction of a host of other small churches dotted around the City, and plethora of iconic buildings which still survive as world-renowned architectural gems. Of all these great buildings, my favourite is possibly one of Wren’s smallest and most whimsical works.
The Temple Bar is London’s only surviving City gate. It now stands between St Paul’s Cathedral and the south entrance to Paternoster Square, but was originally located on the City boundary where Fleet Street meets The Strand.
Commissioned by King Charles II, the design is attributed to Sir Christopher Wren and the building was constructed between 1669 and 1672 by Thomas Knight, the City Mason, and Joshua Marshall, Master of the Mason’s Company. The building served as a city gate until the late 19th century when it became a hindrance to the ever growing Victorian horse-drawn traffic of Fleet Street.
During the building’s history it has been moved twice. In 1878 the building was carefully dismantled and the stones purchased by the brewer Henry Meux, to become a new gate house for his mansion, Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire. There it remained, positioned in a woodland clearing, until 2003. The chamber above the central archway was used by Lady Meux to entertain her friends and she reputedly hosted parties there for Edward VII, the Prince of Wales and Winston Churchill.
In 2004 The Temple Bar returned to the City of London as part of the regeneration of Paternoster Square which had been almost completely destroyed in the bombing raids of the Second World War, while the great St Paul’s only a few yards away had remained unscathed. The Temple Bar Trust now protects this beautiful monument. The aim of the charity is to promote architecture in the City of London to a wider public audience through a regular programme of talks and tours. A key focus of the Trust’s work is supporting greater diversity in the profession. The building also provides a unique space for meetings, dining and entertainment. More info on the Temple Bar Trust here.
A few years ago I decided t create a limited run of 100 models of the Temple Bar as a sort of calling card. I carried out a measured survey of the building and then created a scale model from that. I then made a mould of the model and cast duplicates in resin.
Any Building Anywhere
Please feel free to get in touch to make an appointment. Remember that it is possible to create models of any type of building, from town house to shop or country house. Without a site visit this makes the ultimate in surprise gifts! This service is not limited to the UK and commissions are welcome from anywhere in the world! Please email me a single photo of your house and I will provide you with an estimate, or give me a call for more information. The usual cost of a house portrait model in a box frame starts at around £2,500+vat. (more details about ‘small projects’ here).