The Monument, London

The Monument to the Great Fire of London

It is very rare to come across a memorial of outstanding dimensions being holding such an inconspicuous name. But this is exactly what has happened in case of the memorial in honor of those who perished in the great fire of 1666 at London. The Monument in London as it is called, which is all of 202 feet, is easily the tallest self-supporting stone column in the world.

You will be mesmerized by the stunning portrayal of the fire and the commemorative inscription recounting that infamous incident on the base of the structure. If you want to view the majestic panoramic sights all around the Monument, all you have to do is climb the 303 curved steps that will take you to the pinnacle.

But to do that, you need to pay £1.00 at the base. While climbing the steps you will notice that the monument is interspersed at strategic points with tapered slits, which permits natural light inside the monument. The top of the column has a symbolic copper pot depicting the great fire.

This architectural marvel was the brainchild of Sir Christopher Wren who was a noted scientist and architect. The maverick architect that Wren was, he used the finest available Portland stone to build this masterpiece.

At one point of time, there was an objectionable inscription at the plinth, which read – “The treachery and malice of the Popish faction, in order to carry out their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant religion and old English liberty, and introducing Popery and slavery.” But, thankfully, this ridiculous inscription was withdrawn with the passage of time.

To the east of the pedestal is an inscription which aptly reflects the state of British society during the time when the monument was built. There is also the exquisitely carved statue of King Charles II. Even the bass relief is a work of intricate craftsmanship. To the West side of the pedestal is a brilliant work of craftsmanship vis-a-vis the finely engraved inquisitive insignia of the dreadful scene of the Great Fire.

This magnificent Monument is a befitting tribute to those who perished as well as a commemorative monument aptly signifying the large-scale destruction of land and property that the fire caused. The fact that the great fire consumed 89 churches, city gates, Guildhall, numerous public structures, schools, libraries, 13,200 residential houses, 400 streets to name just a few are reasons enough to build a monument that today dominates the Fish Street Hill landscape.

The devastating magnitude of the fire is aptly inscribed in Latin on the northern side of the pedestal which goes like this – “In the year of Christ 1666, on 2nd September, at a distance of 202 feet, which is the height of this column, a fire broke out in the dead of the night which, the wind blowing, devoured even distant buildings, and rushed devastating through every quarter with astonishing swiftness and noise…….on the third day…..,at the bidding, we may well believe, of heaven, the fire stayed its course and everywhere died out”.


Photo by David Dixon

Published On: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013