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A.& J. Bool, Temple Bar

Temple Bar, ca.1878

From: A.& J. Bool

RA Collection: Art

"The photograph shows the west side of Temple Bar as it was a short time before its demolition, shored up with timber to counteract the effects of the excavations for the New Law Courts. "Temple Bar is the place where the freedom of the City of London and the liberty of the City of Westminster doth part, which separation was anciently only posts, rails and a chain, such as now are at Holborn, Smithfield and Whitechapel Bars. Afterwards there was a house of timber erected across the street, with a narrow gateway, and an entry on the south side of it, under the house." (Strype's Stow, b.iii., p.278.) The Bar as we saw it till it was replaced by the "Memorial" and its famous "Griffin," was built from Wren's designs in 1670. Over the gateway on the east side were stautes of Elizabeth and James I.; the statues on the west side, shown in our photograph were of Charles I. and Charles II. "in Roman habits." All the Gates of London, except Newgate and Temple Bar, being taken down in the years 1760 and 1761, heads of "traitors," which it had been the practise to exhibit at London Bridge - Hentzner, travelling in England in 1597 counted over thirty on the Southwark Gate - were afterwards stuck upon Temple Bar. Thus Horace Walpole writes in 1746: "I have been this morning at the Tower, and passed under the new heads at Temple Bar, " those of the rebels of 1745, "where people make a trade of letting spying glasses at a halfpenny a look." Boswell tells the following story with reference to these "new" heads: "JOHNSON: I remember being once with Goldsmith in Westminster Abbey. While we surveyed the Poet's Corner, I said to him, ' Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.' When we got to the Temple Bar, he stopped me , pointed to the heads upon it, and slily whispered to me: ' Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur ISTIS,'" in allusion to Johnson's Jacobite politics.

The heads long remained here. One is reported by a news writer, quoted in Cunningham's London , to have fallen down on the first of April 1772, leaving one head only remaining. A singular confirmation of this is found Noorthoucks's History of London, a plate in which, dated 1772, of the City Gates, shows Temple Bar decorated with two heads and a vacant spike."

The above description, by Alfred Marks, was taken from the letterpress which accompanies the photographs. In 1878, shortly after the photograph was taken, Temple Bar was removed from Fleet Street as it was a major obstruction to the flow of city traffic. Although parts of the Bar were lost during its removal, the main structure was re-constructed in 1889 in Theobald's Park, the home of Sir Henry Meux. In 2004, after much restoration, including the return of statues of Charles I, Charles II, James I and Anne of Denmark to the four niches on the main elevations, Temple Bar was returned to the City, to a site near Paternoster Square, adjacent to St. Paul's Cathedral.

Object details

Temple Bar
Photographed by
Published by
Printed by
Object type
Carbon print mounted on card

227 mm x 176 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Purchased from
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