“Temple Bar was the principal ceremonial entrance to the City of London on its western side from the City of Westminster…
Although it escaped damage by the Great Fire of London of 1666, it was rebuilt as part of the general improvement works made throughout the City after that devastating event. Commissioned by King Charles II, and attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, the fine arch of Portland stone was constructed between 1669 and 1672, by Thomas Knight, the City Mason, and Joshua Marshall, Master of the Mason’s Company. The statues of Anne of Denmark, James l, Charles I, and Charles II, in niches in the upper floor were carved by John Bushnell.
Rusticated, it is a two-storey structure consisting of one wide central arch for the road traffic, flanked on both sides by narrower arches for pedestrians. On the upper part, four statues celebrate the 1660 Restoration of the Stuart monarchy: on the west side King Charles II is shown with his father King Charles I whose parents King James I and Anne of Denmark are depicted on the east side. During the 18th century the heads of convicted traitors were frequently mounted on pikes and exhibited on the roof, as was the case on London Bridge. The other seven principal gateways to London, (Ludgate, Newgate, Aldersgate, Cripplegate, Moorgate, Bishopsgate and Aldgate) were all demolished in the 1760s, but Temple Bar remained despite its impediment to the ever-growing traffic. The upper-storey room was leased to the neighbouring banking house of Child & Co for storage of records…
In 1874 it was discovered that the keystones had dropped and the arches were propped up with timbers. The steady increase in horse and cart traffic led to complaints that Temple Bar was becoming a bottleneck, holding back the City trade. In 1878 the City of London Corporation, eager to widen the road but unwilling to destroy so historic a monument, dismantled it piece-by-piece over an 11-day period and stored its 2,700 stones carefully. In 1880 the brewer Henry Meux, at the instigation of his wife Valerie Susan Meux, bought the stones and re-erected the arch as the facade of a new gatehouse in the park of his mansion house Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire, the site of a former substantial prodigy house of James VI and I. There it remained, positioned in a woodland clearing, until 2003. A plaque marks the site where Temple Bar once stood.
In March 1938 Theobalds Park was sold by Sir Hedworth Meux to Middlesex County Council, but the Temple Bar Gatehouse was excluded from the sale and retained by the Meux trustees. In 1984 it was purchased by the Temple Bar Trust from the Meux Trust for the sum of £1. In December 2001 the City’s Court of Common Council resolved to contribute funds for the return of Temple Bar to the City. On 13 October 2003 the first stone was dismantled at Theobalds Park and all were placed on 500 pallets for storage. In 2004 it was returned to the City of London where it was painstakingly re-erected as an entrance to the Paternoster Square redevelopment immediately north of St Paul’s Cathedral, opening to the public on 10 November 2004. The total cost of the project was over £3 million, funded mainly by the City of London, with donations from the Temple Bar Trust and several City Livery Companies.
The top of one of the gates was offered for sale by Dreweatts Auctioneers in a London sale of surplus stock from LASSCO on 15 June 2013.”