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Temple Bar once marked the western limit of The City, and took its name from the Temple Church nearby. It originally stood just outside the city walls, and separated the center of trade from the political heart of England – the City of Westminster.
The monument that stands in the centre of the road today is a relatively modern affair – the first bar was literally just a chain attached to two bits of wood. This was replaced by a stone gateway in 1351, which contained a small jailhouse on its second floor.
Extensive repairs were carried out by Christopher Wren in 1670, and for the next half-a-century it became the gruesome post upon which the heads of traitors were mounted.
The steady increase in horse and cart traffic on Victorian roads led to complaints that Temple Bar was becoming a bottleneck, holding back the City trade. So in 1878 it was decided to take it down and transfer it to the Hertfordshire estate of Henry Bruce Meux.
A stone memorial was placed outside the Royal Courts of Justice in 1880, marking the spot where it once stood – this is what we see today. It was designed by Horace Jones and topped by the symbol of the City – a huge winged dragon.
The original gate was later returned to the City, and now occupies a place near St. Paul’s Cathedral.
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