London’s Marble Arch

A landmark in London, the Marble Arch has a history all by itself. The Arch is a marble structure designed by John Nash in 1827. It’s original purpose? To be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace.  The Arch  stood near the site of what is today the central projection of the palace containing the well-known balcony.  The Arch was adapted from the Arch of Constantine in Rome. It’s cost was around 80,000 pounds with the metal gates around 3000 pounds. It was intended to have been surmounted by an equestrian statue of George IV. However when King George suddenly died in 1830 work on the arch was halted by William IV who thought it was far to expensive to build. Work on the Arch resumed in 1832 and was finally completed in 1833. However, when it was completed the Statue of George IV was not placed atop it and other original parts were not included as well.

In 1847 it was dismantled and moved to its current site where the reconstruction was completed in 1851.  A popular story says that the arch was moved because it was too narrow for the Queen’s state coach to pass through, but, in fact, the gold state coach passed under it during Elizabeth II coronation in 1953. Three small rooms inside the rebuilt arch were used as a police station from 1851 until at least 1968.

Today the arch stands alone stranded on a traffic island surrounded by Oxford Road, Park Lane and Edgware Road. The Arch is at the southwest corner of Hyde Park.  The arch remains today a Royal gate. A memory of its former home still lingers on in local law.  If you are feeling rebellious, then take  a march through the central arch  as it is still technically illegal for a commoner to pass through the royal gate. Oh and if you have a thing for spirits and ghosts… The arch also stands close to the former site of the Tyburn Gallows (sometimes called ‘Tyburn Tree’), a place of public execution from 1388 until 1793. It is believed that over 50,000 people lost their lives at these gallows. The history of this city is simply fascinating!

Cheers all.. thanks for tuning into my little history lesson today!

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