John Seely’s 1950s reimagining of Wren’s reassembled Temple Bar at the edge of the City – with photographic help from Bedford Lemere
Temple Bar Christopher Wren
Paternoster Square London, 1950s
The Temple Bar is the only remaining of London’s eight perimeter gates. The original Bar was on the Strand and marked the boundary between the City of London and Westminster. It was damaged by the fire of London in 1666 and replaced by a Portland stone monolith apparently designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Wren’s building was dismantled in the late 19th century to make room for the new Royal Courts of Justice, and its carefully number stones languished in a builder’s yard until Henry and Valerie Meux discovered them and transported them to their house Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire, where the Bar was resurrected. In the 1950s, the Bar featured in William Holford’s plan to revive the bomb-damaged area around St Paul’s Cathedral. The idea seized the imagination of John Seely, of architect Seely and Paget, who became surveyor to the fabric of St Paul’s in 1957. He worked with photographer Bedford Lemere to produce this photomontage showing the gate installed at Ludgate Hill. Holford’s plan was only partially realised in the 1960s. Temple Bar returned to London in 2004 as the grand entrance to the newly redeveloped Paternoster Square.