Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - The Monument

Monument, The ... may be seen for 6d. any day, except Sunday, from 8 in the morning until sunset.

The Monument. - This noble column was erected on Fish Street Hill, in commemoration of the Great Fire in 1666, which broke out at a short distance from this spot. It was begun in 1671, by that distinguished architect Sir Christopher Wren; and was finished in 1677. It is a fluted column of the Doric order, 202 feet high, including its massive pedestal and surmounting cippus and blazing urn. The west side of the pedestal displays an emblematical sculpture, by Cibber, in alto and bas relief, of the destruction of the City; with Charles the Second, surrounded by Liberty, Genius, and Science, giving directions for its restoration. On the other side are appropriate inscriptions. Within the column is a flight of 345 steps, leading to an iron balcony above the capital, from which the prospects are extremely interesting. In this majestic column, which is twenty-four feet higher than Trajan's Pillar at Rome, there are 28,196 feet of solid Portland stone. The London Bridge approaches have been so arranged as to display to the greatest advantage the noble proportions of this, perhaps, the finest modern column in the world.

source: Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

[view showing the cage; note the graffiti, ed.]

source: Punch, Jul.-Dec. 1847

MONUMENT (THE). ST. MARGARET's CHURCHYARD, FISH STREET HILL, now "Monument Yard". A fluted column of the Doric order erected ... to commemorate the Great Fire of London (2-7 Sept. 1666). ... Six persons have thrown themselves off the monument: William Green, a weaver, June 25th 1750; Thomas Craddock, a baker, July 7th, 1788; Lyon Levi, a Jew, Jan. 18th, 1810; a girl named Moyes, the daughter of a baker, in Hemminge's-row, Sept. 11th, 1839; a boy named Hawes, Oct.18th 1839; and a girl of the age of 17, in August 1842. This kind of death becoming popular, it was deemed advisable to encage and disfigure the Monument as we now see it.

source: Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850


source: Punch, Jan.-Jun. 1850

see also David Bartlett in London by Day and Night - click here

    The Monument, Fish Street Hill, London Bridge; a fluted Doric column, by Sir Christopher Wren, erected to commemorate the great fire of London, 1666. The bas-relief was carved by Gabriel Cibber; the four dragons by Edward Pierce, at fifty guineas each. The whole cost 13,700l., and was erected in six years (1671-77). The height is 202 ft., and it stands 202 ft. from the house in Pudding Lane, where the fire originated. The staircase inside numbers 365 steps. In 1831, the Common Council ordered the removal of the offensive inscription which attributed the great fire to the malice of the Papists, and suggested Pope's lines:
        "Where London's column towering to the skies, Like a tall bully, lifts its head and lies."
    The fee for ascending the Monument is 3d. The cage- work which protects the balcony was rendered necessary by the suicides of six monomaniacs: Green, a weaver, 1750; Cradock, a baker, 1788; Levi, a Jew, 1810; Moyes, a baker's daughter, 1839; Hawes, a boy, also in 1839; and a female of 17 years, in 1842; all of whom threw themselves off the Monument.

source: Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865 

see also James Payn in Lights and Shadows of London Life - click here

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Monument, Fish-street-hill- was erected by Wren to commemorate the Great Fire. It is of Portland stone, and 202 ft. high. On the pedestal there was at one time an inscription attributing the fire of 1666 to "the treachery and malice of the Popish faction, in order to carry out their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant religion and old English liberty, and the introducing Popery and slavery," but this absurdity has been very properly cancelled. The top is reached by 345 stairs. The charge of admission is 3d. It will be remembered that, according "Martin Chuzzlewit," the man in charge considered it quite worth twice the money not to make the ascent.  NEAREST Railway Station Cannon-street; Omnibus Routes Cannon-street, King William st, Gracechurch-st, and Fenchurch-st; Cab Rank, Opposite.

source: Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879


This fluted column is one of the most familiar landmarks in London. It rears its flaming head from Fish Street Hill, close to London Bridge. As every schoolboy knows, the Monument was erected, in 1671-77, to commemorate the Great Fire, which in 1666 had destroyed property valued at between seven and eight millions; and its height, 244 feet, is supposed to represent its distance from the spot in Pudding Lane where the flames first appeared. The column, which was designed by Wren, supports a gilded urn whence issue tongues representing the destroying element A fine view well repays the laborious ascent of the 345 winding steps. The gallery is covered by an iron cage, to prevent suicides. The inscription unjustifiably attributing the fire to Popish treachery and malice has been excised from the pedestal.

source: The Queen's London, 1896