Temple Bar has finally returned to the Square Mile. In the December meeting of the Court of Common Council in 2001, the City of London agreed to fund the return of Temple Bar to the Square Mile. At a cost of just over £3.0m – funded by the City of London along with donations from the Temple Bar Trust and several Livery Companies – the reconstruction of Temple Bar on a site next to St Paul’s Cathedral was completed in November 2004.
Both ancient monument consent for the removal of the arch from Theobalds Park, and planning consent for the re-erection in Paternoster Square were necessary. The arch previously owned by the Temple Bar Trust was donated to the City of London. In its new position adjacent to the north west Tower of St Paul’s Cathedral, it forms a pedestrian gateway into the redeveloped Paternoster Square.
The stonework needed a considerable amount of conservation and restoration work which was carried out by a specialist contractor.
It was originally adorned with four royal statues (Charles I, Charles II, James I and Anne of Denmark) carved by John Bushnell and these have now been restored and returned to the four niches on the main elevations of Temple Bar.
In addition new statues depicting the Royal Beasts, City Supporters and associated Coats of Arms (cartouches) were carved by Tim Crawley, Cambridgeshire. These replace the original statues which were lost after Temple Bar was removed from Fleet Street in the nineteenth century.
With the completion of Temple Bar, a unique part of the City’s history will have returned from obscurity. Whilst the monument still retains the distressed character reflecting its age and past history, English Heritage saw the project as having provided a “unique” opportunity for the conservation of an ancient monument in the heart of the City of London in as near an original condition as possible. It was possible to retain over 95% of the original stonework.
The restoration was filmed and photographed by Harris Digital Productions, who also set up this website to show work in progress and updated information about the project.