The more I research about the Monument of the Great Fire London the more amazing things I find about it. Lets not forget about the Architects. Yes. We all know that Christopher Wren rebuilt London after the Great Fire, but how much of it he did by himself and how much of it he had help?
The Monument is one of the buildings that Wren had his right hand man helping with. Robert Hooke's design was the one approved by the King and Hooke used the Monument for his experiments with the Royal Society. (more on that later)
This time I want to talk about the stairs, the more I look into it the more intrigues me. Lots of papers from Wren's Society talks about how this Doric Column was inspired by the Trojan Column in Rome. But I like to think about how Robert Hooke got his inspiration from.
Hooke also made major contributions to the field of geology, being the first to realise that fossils were once living organisms and that they had become extinct due to some natural disaster.
The recent 2007 restoration of The Monument the stone was sourced from the current Manx quarry operators Pooil Vaaish Ltd. The stone is from the Posidonomya Beds of the Castleton Limestone. Posidonomya is a fossil bivalve with a concentrically-ribbed shell which occurs, albeit scarcely in this stone. (see photo of one of the steps at the Monument) . Presence of this organism confirms that this is Pooilvaaish Stone.
The new beautiful stairs of The Monument can't be there just to take you to the top. Maybe it is a "monument" to remind us all that Robert Hooke was part of this building. You can make your way to the top and look down...see how the spiral stairs imitates the beautiful fossils that Robert Hooke used to drawn when he was a young boy. (See photo)
I like to think that the stairs of the Monument was inspire on a Pyritised Ammonite, don't you agree????
Visit The Monument
Caius Gabriel Cibber was born in Germany and moved to London after completing his studies. He was not really good with money, and after gambling his and his wife’s fortune away, he ended up in the debtor’s prison across the river in the infamous Clink. Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke received court permission and during the construction of The Monument Cibber was released during the day to work on his sculpture, but had to go back during the nights. The sculpture on the west panel of the pedestal, facing Fish Street Hill is one of the most interesting sculptures in the City of London. The Frieze is allegorical which means it tells us a story, which in this case is the story of destruction of London on the left and the reconstruction on the right. Each character symbolises or represents different things, so let’s start from the left side: Sitting on broken masonry, holding a sword, we have a Lady representing the CITY OF LONDON, she is on the top of a dragon that has been the symbol for the City for centuries. Behind her Father TIME is helping the City to get back up, he also has the help of Mercury representing INDUSTRY, who is holding a Caduceus – a symbol of commerce and negotiation. On the left side everyone is walking towards THE CITY. The centre character, King Charles II is dressed as a Roman Emperor, standing on a stone platform with a baton of command in his right hand as he gestures towards the personification of ARCHITECTURE. Architecture is holding a square and a compass in her left hand and the plans for the new City on her right. LIBERTY is behind her holding her cap bearing the words LIBERTAS. Another figure balances the representation of NATURE in her hands, a symbol of abundance. On the right side of King Charles II stands his brother, the Duke of York, who helped to put out the fire and is also representing VICTORY. Behind them we have two figures, JUSTICE with a coronet, and FORTITUDE with a reined lion. Beneath them ENVY gnaws on a heart and emitting fumes from her mouth. We also have some people at the back, we can see 2 scenes, on the right London is on Fire and on the left London is being rebuilt. Above it all hovering in the Sky, between foreground and background we have PLENTY and PEACE....
London is amazing. So many things going on in the City. So many people rushing around all the time. Cars. bikes. Scooters. People. People. People. Stop for a minute. Look up...Look around you...see that building you passed by 1.000 times during lunch? What is that in front of the main entrance? What the faces on the Architecture mean? Why the name? Just stop and you will discover London even more. You will find the love that the city has for its history. You will feel the stories dripping down the walls and running down the forgotten Alleys. London simply can't stop the love. You have to stop and enjoy it. Just look around.
Originally built in AD70 and then expended in AD90 – 120, London’s Roman basilica was a building unlike any other in Britain. Occupying nearly 2 hectares of land and standing at a height of up to 3 storeys high, this building was larger than the present day St Paul’s Cathedral!
The basilica acted a civic centre and housed city administrators, law courts, an assembly hall, the treasury and shrines. At its height it was also the largest building of its type north of the Alps, showing the importance of London within the Roman Empire.
The basilica also formed one side of a forum, a huge open-air square that acted as a public meeting place (similar to modern day Trafalgar Square) and housed many shops and market stalls. The forum was also a popular place for socialising and partying in Roman London!
Throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries, numerous structural faults were identified with the buildings and a series of repairs and modifications were carried out. However, the nail in the coffin didn’t come until AD300, when both the basilica and forum were destroyed by Rome as a punishment for London supporting the rogue emperor Carausius.
Although small portions of the forum may have survived, the majority of the basilica and forum were lost into the annals of history until the construction of Leadenhall Market in the 1880s. During this building work, a large support was found which would have acted as the base of an arch in one of the basilica’s arcades. Today, these remains are housed in the basement of a barber’s shop at the corner of Gracechurch Street and Leadenhall Market.
The receptionist of the Barber's is lovely and let me go down to have a look at tge remains myself.
Absolutely amazing part of London's history....