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  • Steve Matthews

Hiding in plain sight

Things of interest don't always come with a label or a sign saying "Look at me". I'm not sure how many times I've walked past this building on the Strand and never given it a moments thought.



The building in question was erected in 1625, so was middle aged by the time of the Great Fire in 1666, and looking at it's dimensions its not difficult to imagine the long terraces of these type of houses which filled this part of the Strand. Today, however it somehow manages to blend in with the surrounding later houses to become slightly invisible.


There is a sign, which to my shame I've never noticed before declaring that the house is the oldest survivor of the Great Fire on the Strand. This is a bit economical with the truth as the fire never actually threatened the building which would have been more like an interested onlooker rather than being in peril. This map of 1658 possibly shows the house at the end of a row between St Clements Danes church and Temple Bar.



Why this particular building should survive is unclear. It is said that it was the home of the Temple Bar Gatekeeper. Severed heads were displayed outside which rapidly became a tourist attraction, so the Gatekeeper started to sell food and drink The building carries on the tradition to this day.

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