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August 1, 2005
Seeing the two boys we had in tow with us, a helpful cab driver suggested the monument as a wonderful site for a family to visit. We were glad he did! For just a few pounds, we were granted entry into the base of the monument. Then it was up, up, up as we climbed the 311 steps that lead to the viewing platform on top. After the huffing and puffing on the narrow spiral staircase, the breeze, when finally outside up top, felt absolutely delicious. Caged in for safety, the platform afforded a bird's eye view of the city. We didn't linger long, but we enjoyed the minutes we took pointing out the landmarks we recognized below us.
Once down again, the boys were given a certificate that proclaimed they had survived the climb as a keepsake to take home.
From journal Lads in London
October 8, 2003
The fire started in a bakery in aptly named Pudding Lane and was for some time attributed a Catholic Plot - a simple-minded French watchmaker named Robert "Lucky" Hubert confessed to being an agent of the Pope and starting the fire -- he was convicted, despite overwhelming evidence that he could not have started the fire, and hanged at Tyburn.
Christopher Wren was put in charge of re-building the city after the fire; from 1667, Parliament raised funds for the redevelopment by taxing coal. Wren (who also designed the current St Paul's and 52 other London churches) conceived the idea of a monument to mark the site where the fire started, and he designed it to consist of a large column topped with a gilded urn of fire. Standing 61m (202ft) tall, the height marks the monument's distance to the site of the baker's shop in Pudding Lane (so that the gilded urn would lay there if the monument was flat to that spot), it was constructed between 1671 and 1677 and, at the time, was the tallest freestanding stone column in the world.
Though these days it's rather hemmed in by surrounding City buildings, you can imagine what a sight it must have been in the sunshine from the river Thames. The climb inside the tower, up a spiral staircase, makes a good workout and you're rewarded by good views of the City and of the river. Even if the Monument is closed (see times below), it's worth heading up to see it as it's a gorgeous 17th century building and a real piece of London's history.
Tel: 020 7626 2717
April-Sept: w/days 9-5:40pm, w/e 2-5pm; Oct-Mar: M-F andSat 9-3:40pm.
From journal Curious corners and facts of London