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“'Memorial to a beneficial calamity'”

The Monument to the Great Fire of London
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Ranked #105 of 1,736 things to do in London
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Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: A permanent reminder of the Great Fire of 1666, the Monument commemorates one of the most famous events in London's history. Standing regally on the piazza between Fish Street Hill and Monument Street, the 202ft column designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke, celebrates the City which rose from the ashes. The Monument invites you to climb its 311 spiral steps and enjoy one of the best views over the City.
Reviewed 11 September 2017

This might sound a contradiction in terms, but the Great Fire of London was exactly that - "A BENEFICIAL CALAMITY"
and The Monument is a memorial to it.
Designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, it stands at the junction of
Fish St. Hill and Monument Street as a perpetual reminder of one of the greatest, but beneficial at the same time, calamities ever to befall this city. The height of The Monument and the distance from it to the King's Bakery in Pudding Lane where it started in the early hours of May 02 1666 -
JUST 1 YEAR ON FROM THE GREAT PLAGUE -
are exactly the same - 202 feet! Is this a coincidence or a sleight of hand?
The Fire itself burned for 3 whole days, destroying more than 13,000 dwellings
and laying waste over 436 acres of land. A less well-known, but inter-connected, monument, is THE GOLDEN BOY OF PYE CORNER. This marks the location near Smithfield where the Great Fire was extinguished on the orders of Prince James, Duke of York. He called for the demolition of sufficient houses so that a firebreak wide enough to stop the conflagration from spreading could be created.
A VERY BOLD STANCE, INDEED!!
All other means had been tried - but to no avail!
The building of the structure, which occupies the site of the former St. Margaret's -
the first church to be devoured by the flames - began in 1671 but was not finished for a further 6 years.The lack of procuring good quality Portland stone in sufficient quantities was said to be the cause. A Royal edict then ensued which stipulated that
"NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO REMOVE MATERIAL FROM THE ISLE OF PORTLAND
UNLESS
THEY HAVE OBTAINED PERMISSION FROM THE ARCHITECT-GENERAL
ie WREN
TO DO SO".
There are inscriptions in Latin all round the base, but it was the ones on the East side which caused the greatest furore. The blame was put initially - and erroneously, as it proved to be - on Roman Catholics for being responsible for starting the Fire:-
"Burning of this Protestant city begun, and carried on, by the treachery and malice of the Popish factor".
Sir Alexander Pope, 18th C Poet,famously penned this retort:-
"While London's column, pointing at the skies, like a tall bully, lifts the head,
and lies".
Following the enactment of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, orders were relayed for the removal of ALL REFERENCES appertaining to any religious involvement in this dreadful affair.
The final cost of this masterpiece was £13,450 11s 9d
and 28,196 cu.ft of stone was transported from Dorset to create it. After much prolonged discussion, a gilded urn of fire was placed atop of it.
A narrow, winding staircase of 311 treads will take you to a balcony just below this but, following the deaths of 6 unrelated people in just over 50 years, a mesh barrier had to be erected in the latter half of the 19th C to prevent a repeat of such dreadful happenings.
It is now a Grade 1 Listed structure and is open at the following times:-
APRIL-SEPT. 09:30 - 17:30
OCTOBER - MARCH 09:30 - 17:00
There is, naturally, an admission charge - this is variable, dependent on circs. - but it is currently CASH ONLY.
There are a few rules to be followed
IE
no large bags to be carried up to the balcony
maximum of 33 people permitted at the top at any one time due to confines of the structure. The view is well worth the effort needed to attain it because the word
"PANORAMIC"
doesn't do it justice at all.
"Come,climb and enjoy. It's waiting for you".

Thank Margaret Mary O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 11 September 2017 via mobile

The monument commemorates the great fire of London in 1666. It is 62 metres (200 feet) high and you are able to ascend to the top where there is an outside veiwing gallery, fantastic experience.

Thank rayrest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 September 2017

Try not to go on the weekend. Super packed. And get the ticket from the Tower Bridge same times, I believed cheaper if you buy them together.
Might want to consider bring some water, it's a long way up, I forgot how many steps, but the height it's equal to 16-18 story building. Good luck

1  Thank Rubi T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 September 2017

we accidentally passed by the monument on our way to the tower of London. it is where the Great Fire began. we didn't know it was about 311 steps but they were worth it! amazing view from the top of the monument. 360 view over London!!

Thank BeaBey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 September 2017

An impressive monument in quite an enclosed space due to the surrounding buildings, which I think adds to it.

Thank KevinRayment
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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