As you all know, the Romans constructed a protective wall around their City some time in the 2nd or 3rd century and gateways were incorporated that aligned with the Roman road network. During the medieval period, these defences were further adapted and strengthened, but the City gradually extended beyond its original boundaries and we then start to see places described as ‘within’ and ‘without’. Eventually the wall and gates had become an obstruction and demolition, which started in 1760, continued right into the 19th century.

A short way to the west of the old Lud Gate was Temple Bar. Originally there to regulate trade into the City, it was rebuilt after the Great Fire more as a ceremonial entrance. Believed to have been designed by Christopher Wren, it survived until¬† 1878 when it’s obstruction to traffic became too big a problem and it was carefully demolished and put in storage. It was sold in 1880 to the brewer Sir Henry Meux. It is a fascinating story and I have written about him and his beautiful, eccentric wife Valerie in an earlier blog which you can access here.

After 126 years on Sir Henry’s country estate, the Bar was finally returned to the City in 2004 and was re-erected in Paternoster Square next to st Paul’s Cathedral. I think it looks great …

When I visited it recently I became intrigued by the wooden doors. There are two big doors that close to shut off the main entrance and two smaller doors in the pedestrian archways either side.

Were they original or were they fitted by Sir Henry? Photos show them closed when on the estate but I could not find a picture of them closed on Fleet Street. I went looking for graffiti to see if they would give me a clue. There were some from the 20th century …

DH from 1945.

Someone in 1957.

But could this possibly be 1751 …

And maybe this is 1749 …

Neither are very conclusive unfortunately but I am pretty sure the gates predate the Bar’s removal in 1878. I am going to do a bit more research.

*** STOP PRESS ***

Saturday 18 August – Just started my research and I am sure the gates date from before 1880. Here is an extract from Bradshaw’s Illustrated Handbook to London and its Environs 1862:

‘To show the power of the Lord Mayor, the ponderous gates of the civic barrier are shut upon all occasions of royal visits to the city. The herald then sounds a trumpet, and the Mayor and corporation within demand by their marshal to know the monarch’s pleasure , which, being communicated, the City sword is presented , the barrier flies open, and the cavalcade proceeds to its destination’.

This got me interested in gates generally and there are some really attractive ones around the City.

These beautifully restored examples are outside Salters’ Hall in Fore Street (EC2Y 5DE) …

The gates are dated 1887 and were salvaged when the original hall was destroyed in the Blitz. The company’s motto sal sapit omnia (salt savours everything) has been incorporated along with birds and animals.

The Inner Temple has an impressive gated entrance off Tudor Street …

Through the entrance and on the left I noticed these gates leading to the Inner Temple Garden (EC4Y 9AT). They date from circa 1730 and lead to approximately three acres of gardens …

I particularly liked this sign …

Placed quite low down, it is clearly aimed at literate animals who must nonetheless behave themselves.

And finally, this is the western entrance to Liverpool Street Station …

Up the stairs and to the left you will see gates incorporating this emblem …

The Great Eastern Railway Company operated from 1862 until 1923 when it was incorporated into the London & North Eastern Railway. You can read more about the station and its history here.