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The Monument to the Great Fire
One of the most mementos events to take place in the history of London started in Thomas Farriner’s bakery in Pudding Lane on the morning of 2 September 1666. What occurred on this day and the three days following was to very literally change the face of London. The event to which I refer was, of course the Great Fire of London.
While miraculously fewer than ten people were killed the fire destroyed 13,200 houses, 86 churches (including St Paul’s Cathedral), the Guildhall and 52 livery company halls. The heart was literally ripped out of London and four-fifths of the city (436 acres) was reduced to a blackened ruin. Street after street disappeared as the fire, fanned by a strong easterly wind, moved further and further into the city from the Thames.
For days after the fire, famous London diarist Samuel Pepys, wrote that the ground was too hot to walk on and that he had burnt his feet.
Many people including King Charles II believed that the fire was an act of God – Gods retribution on the people of London for the gluttonous ways. After all, the fire had started in Pudding Lane and had stopped around Pye Corner! Others blamed the French or the Dutch with whom England was at war at the time while others decreed that it was a Catholic plot to destroy the Protestant city of London.
The baker, Farriner, escaped blame and the scapegoat was a Frenchman with mental problems named Robert Hubert who admitted to deliberately lighting the fire. Hubert was tried and hung in October 1666. It was later discovered that Hubert had arrived on a ship some days after the fire had started. Modern scholars have concluded that Farriner most likely neglected to properly extinguish his oven the night before the fire started.
The Monument, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who designed a significant portion of the city’s rebuild, including St Paul’s Cathedral) and Dr Robert Hooke (Surveyor to the City of London and Wren’s assistant) was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire and the subsequent rebuilding of the city.
It is a 202 feet (61 metres) tall Doric column of Portland stone topped by a flaming copper orb symbolising the fire, which, if it were to fall in the right direction, would reach the point in Pudding Lane were the fire started in 1666.
The platform just below the orb can be reached by a rather sweaty climb up a spiral staircase of some 311 steps. It wasn’t until 1842 that the platform was enclosed in the cage you will find yourself in today, should you go up. The cage was added as a consequence of six people having committed suicide by throwing themselves of the platform since 1788. Interestingly, two of the six who committed suicide in this way were bakers and a third was the daughter of a baker. Good views across the city from the top.
The reliefs on the western side of the Monument’s base depict Charles II while the other three faces tell the story of the Great Fire, in latin (there is a translation for those who didn’t go to the right school!). I mentioned earlier that many people saw the fire as a Catholic plot to destroy the Protestant city of London. This was a view very seriously held such that in 1681, the words of the main inscription were altered to include the words “But popish Frenzy, which wrought such horrors, is not yet quenched”. These words were removed again in 1831.
Summer: April – September 9:30am-6pm daily (last admission 5:30pm)
Winter: October – March 9:30am-5.30pm daily (last admission 5pm)
Adults £3; concessions £2; children (under 16s) £1.50.
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Monument to the Great Fire of London
London in 1666 was a tinderbox. More than 80,000 homes were packed chaotically within the medieval city walls. The homes were made of cheap, flammable materials: wood, paper, tar and thatched roofs. The homes burned open fires and squeezed in between them were the smoking industries of bakeries, glaziers, metal foundries and black smiths. The conditions were so cramped fire could dance and skip from one building to the next in moments - and the overcrowding encouraged people to build jetties - overhanging upper floors that would touch the roofs of houses across the street. It was a conflagration waiting to happen - an inferno that threatened to devour the entire City of London. And on September 2nd, 1666 it did just that.
The city was wiped out. The fire raged for three days and three nights. It started in a bakery on Pudding Lane, exactly 202 feet from where the Monument stands today, itself exactly 202 feet tall. A hot summer had dried the thatched roofs of London to a crisp. The fire was out of control before anyone could do anything about it. The main way out of the city, London Bridge, was just as built up with wooden houses as the city and became a death trap. The waters of the Thames became unreachable as the hovels along its bank went up in a raging fiery smoke. If the situation wasn't bad enough, the overworked firefighters were refused help from the King by the republican sympathizing mayor.
Three days the firestorm burned. It became so big it created its own weather system, wrapping fierce winds around the city, fanning the flames and making the movement of the fire unpredictable. When it was finally brought under control on 5th September, 70,000 of the city's 80,000 homes had been destroyed. What remained of the population was almost entirely homeless. Samuel Pepys, whose diaries were a rare chronicle of the fire, walked the still smoldering streets of the city and declared it "the saddest sight of desolation that I ever saw."
It was an earth shattering moment for the capital - a shock that brought what was possibly the greatest city in the world at the time to a shuddering halt. The fire spawned legends, songs, nursery rhymes, novels, television dramas and documentaries. It left a mark on the soul of the city and the country as a whole. But perhaps its greatest legacy is the space that was left behind after the flames. Gone was the shambling chaotic mess of hovels and industry and in its place was planned and built a new city. The old streets were kept, but in their place came new, safer, modern houses made of bricks and stone. Great architects, like Sir Christopher Wren, imprinted their artistry and skill on the city, defining a new age with buildings like St. Paul's Cathedral.
And to cap it all was the Monument itself, raised high above the city like a watchtower keeping vigil over the homes of new London, making sure no fire would ever destroy the city again.
The Monument - of the Great Fire of London.
This magnificient monument is a monument of the Great Fire of London in 1666 - and the rebuilding of the City. It was made by Sir Christopher Wren and is 202 ft (61 meters) high - making it the world´s largest/tallest free standing stone column of modern times. The construction work of the Monument took place between 1671-1677. In 1834 the Monument was completely renovated and again in 1954 when the Monument was steam cleaned.
One can walk up to the top of the monument - 311 steps - 160 ft up, for the price of GBP 3. Up there is a view-platform with a panoramic view of London. I have not been tempted to go up there - yet ;)
On the sides of the monument´s pedestal are inscriptions and an allegorical sculpture. Four dragons of the City of London stand guard on the pedestal of the Monument. On top of the column is a copper vase of flames - it has always looked like gold to me.
The devastating Great Fire of London burnt for 3 days and destroyed ca 13.000 and 436 acers of land in London, making ca 100.000 people homeless, 6 were killed in the fire. The fire started in a bakery in Pudding Lane, where Thomas Farriner, the baker to King Charles II, had a bakery. The height of the Monument is exactly the distance to the site where the bakery used to be located to the east of the Monument.
Opening hours are 09:30 - 17:30 daily.
Monument to the Great Fire
The Great Fire of 1666 wreaked havoc across London, claiming many lives as well as much of the city’s infrastructure and building stock. As with many calamities, the scars of the fire would be covered up in the decades that followed thanks to the reconstruction of London as well as the general economic growth that spurred the city’s development. In order to ensure that the lives lost and the damage visited upon London were not forgotten, the Monument to the Great Fire, usually known as just the London Monument, was erected in the 1670s. The Monument stands at the spot of a church, St. Margaret’s, that was burnt down in the fire. Despite competing proposals, the city eventually decided on the Doric column design that is still standing today, topped by a copper fire urn that was designed, in part, by London’s beloved Sir Christopher Wren. The base of the Monument is covered with reliefs that depict the city and the destruction. Visitors can go to the top of the monument, from which they have an excellent view of the city, as it remains the tallest free-standing column in the world.
- Historical Travel
THE MONUMENT and the GREAT FIRE
The Monument was completed in 1667 to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the building of the new city. The monument is 61 metres high and there are 311 steps to the viewing deck, above which is a drum and urn with emerging flames symbolising the fire.
The fire started in a bakery in Pudding Lane on 2nd September 1666 and was finally extinguished 3 days later after destroying most of the city. Most of the houses were wooden back then so only a few stone buildings survived, as 1000's of homes, churches, bridges and city gates were destroyed, but fortunately there was very little loss of life.
Climb to the platform that is 160 feet above ground and have an excellent view of London.
Open daily 9.30-5.30
Adults £3 children £1.50
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Reminder of when all London burned
It is a few years since I felt motivated to climb the 311 steps to the top of this striking column, so I have no digital photos of the view. You will just have to take my word for it that it is worth the effort! Or check out the website (link below) for real-time views from the top.
But whether you feel like climbing up or not (and if you can you really should!), the Monument is well worth a visit. 61 metres (202 feet) tall and with a gleaming (recently restored) gold top, on a sunny day it really is a sight to behold! It was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666, and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City.
The Great Fire began in a baker's house in Pudding Lane on Sunday 2nd September and was finally extinguished three days later on 5th September, after destroying most of the City: thousands of houses, hundreds of streets, the City's gates, public buildings, churches and St. Paul's Cathedral. The only buildings to survive in part were those built of stone, like St. Paul's and the Guildhall.
The column chosen to serve as a memorial to all this destruction was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and erected not, as might have been expected, on the site of the fire’s ignition but at a point 202 feet away – the exact height of the column itself. The ornate top is in fact a copper urn from which flames emerge, symbolising the fire. It seems a fitting reminder of the power of flame to engulf a city, but it could have looked very different as an alternative design submitted by Wren had a statue of the then king, Charles II. I think I prefer it like this!
The Monument is open every day, from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm. Admission Prices in summer 2011 were Adults £3.00, Concessions £2.00 and children £1.50. Under 13s have to be accompanied by an adult.
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Monument-great views of London
I'm not sure why I've never visited the Monument before, if it's in Europe, has nice views and lots of steps, you can almost be sure that I've climbed it!
Since London doesn't have any really big skyscrapers that offer the public views of London, if you want a view over the city you can pay lots of £££ to go on the London Eye or you can pay a few £ and burn off a few calories trekking up the 311 steps to the top of the Monument. Upon exit, they even gave us a certificate of completion for our efforts! The views here are different than the London Eye as they are on opposite sides of the city, the Eye gives you a bird's eye view of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the Monument gives you a view over the City of London, St. Paul's, the Tower Bridge, City Hall and the Erotic Gherkin.
The Monument, designed by Christopher Wren, was completed in 1677 and built to celebrate the city's rebuilding after the Great Fire of 1666.
The Fish Street Pillar aka The Monument
The monument is in the place where the first church to be destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. The tower is the work of Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke. The monument took 6 years to construct, this was due mostly to the difficulties encountered in obtaining the 28,196 cubic feet of Portland stone that was needed.
According to the accounts of Wren the total costs were £13,450 11s 9d
The structure measures 202 feet in height (61m) and is in fact 202 feet from where the Great Fire started in Pudding Lane.
There are 311 spiral steps to the viewing platform which is 160 feet (48.5m) above the ground.
There is no lift (elevator) so if you cannot climb the steps, you will not reach the viewing platform. They plan to introduce real time viewing shortly.
In 1666, a great fire raged through what is now the City of London and as a monument to this event which changed the look of London so much and opened up for the building of St Paul's Cathedral, the Monument was built in 1671-7 and designed by Wren just like the cathedral itself. At the top is a copper flame to symbolise the fire. You can climb the Monument for great views of the city, despite its awkward position between high rise buildings these days. Not for those who cannot handle stairs and it is quite hard to turn around unless you actually make it to the top!
- Historical Travel
Monument - The Monument to the Great Fire
This monument is dedicated to one of the biggest catastrophes London has ever met: The great fire of 1666 which destroyed large parts of city. The monument has a height of 61 meters which is the distance from the monument to the place where the great fire broke out. It consists of a doric column, a golden urn of fire and large base with reliefs showing scenes from the fire as well as the Kings Charles II and James II surrounded by inpersonifications of Liberty, Science and Architecture. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren who was also responsable for the reconstruction of many large buildings.
A few meters away to the east, very close to the place where the fire broke out, there is a commemorative plaque. A second monument dedicated to the fire, called the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, is situated at the place where the fire stopped.
It is possible to climb up the stair for a small fee. For that, check out the webpage.
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Visit the Tallest Stone Column in the World
Wandering around the streets of London Bridge we saw a street sign saying Pudding Lane - a yes the spot where the GREAT FIRE OF LONDON started but alas nothing of interest. Later on we stumbled across THE MONUMENT built after the fire & designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1677 to commemerate the fire. The monument is 202 feet high topped of with a flaming urn. You can climb the 311 steps of a very scarey spiral staircase & look out over London from the top - you are then rewarded with a certificate to say you managed it. I hasten to add we did not bother because the London Fire Brigade would have had to have brought me back down!!
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Great Fire Monument: Exercise and a view
1666: Six years after the Restoration the City of London is ablaze. A fire that started in a bakery has found its way across the medieval city. Despite the efforts of such luminaries as the Duke of York (later James II) a lack of fire fighting equipment, tinder dry homes, and no construction standards meant that the city (including the original St. Pauls) was doomed.
The monument was raised in 1677 (by Sir Christopher Wren) to commemoratte the fire and the rapid rebuilding of London. It once towered over much of the city. This is no longer quite the case but for those prepared to climb its 202 feet (311 circular steps - just 43 fewer steps than the more famous Statue of Liberty in NY Harbour ) you will still get a great view of the City of London and a certificate.
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You should do 311 spiral steps 202 feet up to the top of The Monument.
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and erected between 1671 and 1677 to mark the Great Fire of London in 1666, The Monument is the tallest freestanding stone column in the world.
""In the year of Christ 1666, the second day of September, eastward from hence, at the distance of two hundred and two feet, (the height of this column) about midnight, a most terrible fire broke out, which driven on by a high wind, not only wasted the adjacent parts, but also places very remote, with incredible noise and fury.
It consumed 89 churches, the city gates, Guildhall, many public structures, hospitals, schools, libraries, a vastnumber of stately edifices, 13,200 dwelling-houses, 400 streets; of 26 wards, it utterly destroyed 15, and left 8 others shattered and half burnt. The ruins of the city were 436 acres, from the Tower by the Thames side, to the Temple church, and from the north-east gate along the city wall to Holborn bridge. To the estates and fortunes of the citizens it was merciless, but to their lives very favourable, that it might in all things resemble the last conflagration of the world.""
The significance of its 202 feet height is not simply that it makes your feet ache if you climb it, but it is also the distance to the bakery on Pudding Lane that was the suspected source of the fire that destroyed the city.
£2.50 Adults, £1.00 5-15s, Free for under 5s
Times: From 09:30 to 17:00 Daily
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Monument of "The Great Fire"
The tallest free-standing stone column in the world (205 Ft) has 311 steps to reach the observation platform at the top.
It was build to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666 which is said to have started a couple hundred feet to the West (where there is a plaque). Reliefs around the base depict Charles II working to re-build the city.
The monument was recently renovated and restored and is now open once again for those who want to climb to the top, although the views aren't so impressive as they once were due to so many modern buildings being built around it.
- Historical Travel
Looking at the flyer the monument is known for its great views, great climb and great history! The Monument was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666 and celebrated the revival of the city. It took 11 years to build and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke.
You can climb up the recently restored monument to enjoy the panoramic views across London. It takes 311 spiral steps to reach to the top. Unfortunately The Monument isn't accessible to those who can't climb the stairs but you can access the adventure live via the internet. Everyone who reaches to the top is awarded a certificate.
It cost me 3 GBP (January 2010) to climb The Monument.
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