Statues - Hither & Thither
Monument Street (EC3)
Monument to the Great Fire of London"The Monument"
Caius Gabriel Cibber
The Monument comprises a fluted Doric column of 36½ m (120 ft) high, built of Portland stone topped with a gilded urn of fire. It stands on a 12 m (40 ft.) high base.
The west side of the base displays a sculpture, by Caius Gabriel Cibber, in alto and bas relief.Description of the relief by Robert Seymour in A survey of the cities of London and Westminster, borough of Southwark, and Parts Adjacent (London, 1733), vol. I, pp. 451-452.
That to which the eye is particularly directed is  a female, representing the city of London, sitting in a languishing pofture on a heap of ruins.  Behind is Time, gradually raising her up; and at her side, a woman, representing Providence, gently touches her with one hand, while, with a winged sceptre in the other, she directs her to regard two goddesses in the clouds; one with a cornucopia, denoting plenty, the other with a palm branch, the emblem of peace.  At her feet is a bee-hive, to shew that by industry and application the greatest misfortunes may be overcome.  Behind Time, are citizens exulting at his endeavours to restore her;  and beneath, in the midst of the ruins, is a dragon, the supporter of the city arms, who endeavours to preserve them with his paw;  still farther, at the north end, is a view of the city in flames; the inhabitants in consternation, with their arms extended upward, and crying for assistance.  Opposite the city, on an elevated pavement, stands the king, in a Roman habit, with a laurel on his head, and a truncheon in his hand; who approaching her, commands three of his attendants to descend to her relief:  the first represents the Sciences, with a winged head and circle of naked boys dancing thereon, and holding Nature in her hand with her numerous breasts ready to give assistance to all:  the second is Architecture, with a plan in one hand, and a square and pair of compasses in the other:  the third is Liberty waving a hat in the air, and shewing her joy at the pleasing prospect of the city's speedy recovery.  Behind the king stands his brother, the duke of York, with a garland in one hand to crown the rising city, and a sword in the other for her defence.  The two figures behind him are Justice and Fortitude; the former with a coronet, and the latter with a reined lion;  and under the pavement, in a vault, appears Envy gnawing a heart: in the upper part of the back ground, the re-construction of the city is represented by scaffolds and unfinished houses, with builders at work on them.Description of the London Remembers site:
It shows a woman on the left (representing the City) languishing on some ruins. Winged Time supports her and a female figure points with a winged sceptre at the clouds which contain two more bare-breasted lovelies, one with a cornucopia (Plenty) and one with a laurel branch (Praise). Behind the group on the left are some figures waving their hands in distress and behind them, the cause, buildings with smoke and flames pouring forth. To the right of this group can be seen a beehive, symbol of industry. And is that the City dragon/griffon we see at the bottom left creeping out from under the ruins? The main figure in the group to the right is King Charles II standing at the top of some steps. He directs three more scantily-clad women down the steps towards poor City. They represent: Science brandishing a figure of many-breasted Nature and with a very strange headdress; Architecture clutching some plans and a pair of compasses, and Liberty waving her cowboy hat in the air. To the right of the Kings stands his brother, the Duke of York (the future King James II) clutching a garland, presumably destined for the City. Behind James are two more female allegorical figures: to the left Justice wearing a coronet and to the right Fortitude brandishing a sword in one hand while the other controls the leashed lion at her feet. Behind this group the reconstruction of the City progresses, with workmen scrambling over scaffolding. Below the steps on which this group stands, squeezed into an arched cavern is an ugly female figure, Envy eating her own heart.
The descriptions do not agree at some important points, especially about the figure to the right of the King: Seymour says it is Mars, where Noorthouck says it is the Duke of York
Overview of the 13 main figures:
|Seymour 1733||Noorthouck 1773 / London Remembers|
|2||City of London||City of London|
|7||King Charles II||the king|
|9||Mars||Duke of York|
|11 (below)||Envy, blowing flames out of his mouth||Envy, gnawing a heart|
|13 (cloud)||Peace||Peace / Praise|
Three sides of the base carry inscriptions in Latin:
carolvs ii c. mart. f. mag. brit. franc. et hib. rex. fid. d.
Charles II. Son of Charles the Martyr, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, a most gracious prince, commiserating the deplorable state of things, whilft the ruins were yet smoaking, provided for the comfort of his citizens, and the ornament of his city; remitted their taxes, and referred the petitions of the magistrates and inhabitants to the parliament, who immediately passed an act, that public works should be restored to greater beauty with public money, to be raised by an imposition on coal; that churches, and the cathedral of St. Paul's, should be rebuilt from their foundations, with all magnificence; that bridges, gates, and prisons should be new made, the sewers cleansed, the streets made strait and regular, such as were steep levelled, and those too narrow made wider, markets and shambles removed to separate places. They also enacted, that every house should be built with party walls, and all in front raised of equal height, and those walls all of square stone or brick, and that no man should delay beyond the space of seven years. Moreover, care was taken by law to prevent all suits about their bounds. Also anniversary prayers were enjoined; and, to perpetuate the memory hereof to posterity, they caused this column to be erected. The work was carried on with diligence, and London is restored; but whether with greater speed, or beauty, may be made a question. Three years time saw that finished, which was supposed to be the business of an age.
anno christi mdclxvi die iv. nonas septembress
velox clades fvit exigvvm tempvs eandem vidit
In the year of Christ 1666, the second day of September, eastward from hence, at the distance of 202 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 vast number 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 destruction was sudden; for in a small space of time the same city was seen most flourishing, and reduced to nothing. Three days after, when this fatal fire had baffled all human counsels and endeavours in the opinion of all, as it were by the will of Heaven it stopped, and on every side was extinguished.
Translations from John Noorthouck, A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark (1773) (British History Online). These translations are not identical with the ones on the plaques on the monument, as transcribed on the London Remembers website.
THE MONUMENTthis monument designed by sir christopher wren was built to commemorate the
great fire of london 1666, which burned for three days consuming more than
13,000 houses and devastating 436 acres of the city. the monument is 202 ft in
height, being equal to the distance westward from the bakehouse in pudding lane
where the fire broke out. it took six years to construct 1671-1677. the balcony
is reached by a spiral stairway of 311 steps and affords panoramic views of
the metropolis. a superstructure rises from the balcony and supports a copper
vase of flames.
the allegorical sculpture on the pedestal above was executed by caius gabriel cibber.
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ST MAGNUS THE MARTYR
fish street hill, to the south, leads to st. magnus the martyr (a wren church),