Views of London : Gates
Looking west along the Strand and Temple Bar towards Fleet Street.
Temple Bar was the site of one of the original bars which were set up to indicate the limits of the City authority where the jurisdiction went beyond the original walls of London. It was at first probably no more than a bar across the road and took its name from the Temple law courts close by, which in turn had taken their name from the Knights Templar, who had once occupied the Temple Church. The gate shown here was built from Portland stone and completed in 1672. It was often used to display the heads and other body parts of traitors on spikes.
The following is an account of the execution of Francis Townley, Colonel of the Manchester Regiment in the Jacobite army, who was executed at Kennington Common in July 1746 : 'After he had hung for six minutes, he was cut down, and, having life in him, as he lay on the block to be quartered, the executioner gave him several blows on the breast, which not having the effect designed, he immediately cut his throat : after which he took his head off : then ripped him open, and took out his bowels and threw them into the fire which consumed them : then he slashed his four quarters, put them with the head into a coffin, and they were deposited till Saturday, August 2nd, when his head was put on Temple Bar, and his body and limbs suffered to be buried.'
The gate became a cause of traffic congestion during the nineteenth century. It was taken down in 1878 and re erected in 1889 at Theobald's (pronounced Tibbalds) Park in Hertfordshire to form the entrance to the park of the brewer, Sir Henry Meux, at the instigation of Lady Meux.
It was moved once again in 2003 and now forms the pedestrian entrance to Paternoster Square, near the north west tower of St Paul's Cathedral.
St James Gate
St James Gate is the only surviving fragment of St James Palace, a Tudor building which became the official residence of the monarch from 1698, when Whitehall Palace burnt down, until 1809, when this building was also destroyed by fire. It was commissioned by Henry VIII in 1530 and occupies the site of a former leper hospital dedicated to St James the Less, from which both the palace and the nearby St James' Park derive their names.
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