History of Temple Bar

Temple Bar was the principal ceremonial entrance to the City of London on its western side from the City of Westminster. It is now part of the Paternoster Development adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral and home of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.


Throughout London’s long history no other architect has left such a legacy to following generations as Sir Christopher Wren. After the Great Fire of London in 1666 Wren oversaw the rebuilding of no less than 51 of the City’s 90 plus parish churches destroyed in the fire, 23 of which remain for our enjoyment to this day. Along with them he rebuilt the wonderful St Paul’s Cathedral and oversaw the erection of the Monument to the fire, built on the site of St Mary Fish Street Hill, the first church to succumb to the flames.

But there was one more structure Wren built that had nothing to do with the Great Fire. This was the Temple Bar which stood at the end of Fleet Street, defining the western limit of the City’s Liberties. The bar was removed in 1878 to ease growing traffic congestion but was returned to a new site in the very heart of the City in 2004 alongside the cathedral, where it formed the dramatic entrance to Paternoster Square. However, despite its splendid setting and magnificent neighbour, apart from  the occasional reception and exclusive dinner or luncheon, it has played very little part in the dynamic 21st century life of the City.

The Worshipful Company of Architects shield contains the logo of the Temple Bar as the company was founded at the time that the Temple Bar was brought back to London and reinstate in its present position in paternoster Square. The Architects Company is one of the 70 City Livery companies that lack a hall of their own, but whilst the Temple Bar could never assume the role of a livery hall proper there are many functions associated with the Livery and City life that if combined with the adjacent property and properly managed it could fulfil. This document sets out how together with supporting evidence of, they would be leased and separately managed and financed by a new charity, The Temple Bar Trust, formed to.

In 2004 Temple Bar – the ancient western gateway to the City of London – was returned to the Square Mile as part of the redevelopment of Paternoster Square by MECUK. Since the end of the 19th century it had languished at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire having been removed from its original Fleet Street location as being a hindrance to traffic.

The move was arranged by the former Temple Bar Trust whose first Chairman Sir Hugh Wontner – Lord Mayor of London 1973-74 – suggested that this jewel of a building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, might become the home of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.

After a successful first 30 years the Company has reached a new stage in its development. Having rejuvenated and increased its membership it is in a position to build upon Sir Hugh’s original suggestion by leasing the Temple Bar for its aspirations for charitable architectural outreach and this document sets out the plan to give the building that role. The room is currently hired out sporadically for meetings and meals, but the Company believes that it can bring the building into greater active charitable public use by making this unique space become known to a wider public as the Architectural Gateway to the City of London.

Recording by Chair of the Temple Bar Trust Peter Murray