Temple Bar is the only surviving gateway to the City of London, where it once stood at the junction where the Strand meets Fleet Street for more than 200 years. A bar is first mentioned here in 1293, at which time it was probably no more than a chain (or bar) between wooden posts. Due to its vicinity to the Temple, an area where the guilds of lawyers organised into what would become the Inns of Court in an area that is now considered “Legal London”, it was commonly referred to as Temple Bar. A little over a century later however, this was replaced by a handsome gateway, which was built from timber and had the addition of a prison above it.
Since its conception in 1351, Temple Bar is mentioned throughout history, whether it be stories of victorious kings returning through its arches, its opening to receive the marriage of Mary Tudor to Phillip of Spain, or the passing by of the funeral cortege of Henry VII’s Queen, Elizabeth of York. Perhaps one of the most significant of state events, was the great triumphal procession of Elizabeth I in celebration of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The Lord Mayor waited at Temple Bar to present to the Sovereign the keys of the City, which Elizabeth I enhanced by presenting the Lord Mayor with a pearl encrusted sword, one of five City swords. This tradition has been preserved for more than 400 years, and the ceremony now is carried out on major state occasions where the Queen halts at Temple Bar to request permission to enter the City of London and is offered the Lord Mayor’s Sword of State as a sign of loyalty.