Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - Temple Bar Memorial

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Temple Bar Memorial, 1880 [ILN Picture Library]

The Temple Bar Memorial designed by the late Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect, and unveiled Nov. 1880, was intended to mark the exact site of the old Bar, removed because of its obstructing the thoroughfare. The Memorial is 31 feet 6 inches high, 5 feet wide and 7 feet 8 inches long, and serves as a refuge for pedestrians crossing the road. In niches on the north and south sides of it are life-size marble statues of the Queen and Prince of Wales, by Mr. Boehm, A.R.A., and in the pedestal are four basso-relievos, showing "the Queen's first Entrance into the City through Temple Bar, 1837;" "The Procession to St. Paul's on the Day of Thanksgiving for the Prince of Wales's recovery from illness, 1872;" and "The first Temple Bar" and "The Last Temple Bar." The portrait medallions on the east and west fronts represent Prince Albert Victor of Wales and Lord Mayor Sir F. Truscott, in whose year of office the Memorial was erected, at a cost of 10,696. The whole is surmounted by a small pedestal with an heraldic Dragon or Griffin, by C.B. Birch, A.R.A. The winged monster, representing one of the heraldic supporters in the City Arms, is certainly hideous enough to account for the censure bestowed by the public upon it. May it not, however, remind one of the Griffin of the elder Pliny, "which, with singular cupidity, guarded the treasure of the gold mines against the Arimaspi, - a one-eyed race continually battling for it." From this point of view the Griffin is no unfitting symbol for the life and death struggle continually going on in London for the possession of the precious metal.

Herbert Fry, London, 1889