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The Monument (London)

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The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known as The Monument, is a 61-metre (202-foot) tall stone Roman doric column in the City of London, near to the northern end of London Bridge. It is located at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, 61 metres from where the Great Fire of London started in 1666.

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      07.09.2013 19:12
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      Worth the effort

      The Monument is...well... a monument, and is situated in central London right next to Monument tube station and was built to remember the Great Fire of London in 1666.

      The Monument, which is a tall stone pillar, stands 61m (202 feet) high and is situated 61m from where the Great Fire started in Pudding Lane, and is actually situated on the site of what was St Margaret's church, the first one destroyed in the fire which is at nowadays the junction of Monument Street and Fish Hill Street. If you come here by London Underground, use Monument tube station (District and Circle Lines) and follow the signs in the station to make sure you get the correct exit. You can't miss it as you come out of the station. Using mainline rail services, London Bridge is the nearest. Buses 17, 521, 21, 43, 133, 141, 48 and 149 stop nearby. The area immediately around the Monument is pedestrianised. As you look at it from the outside you will see the copper orb with flames coming out of it at the very top. Just below this is the viewing platform.

      The Monument is open daily from 9.30am to 5.30pm (extended by half an hour either way in summer months) and the last admission is always half an hour before close. You enter through a narrow door in the side and hand over your admission fee. It costs £3 for adults, £2 for concessions and £1.50 for children. Although the Monument was built to remember the Great Fire, there is not very much information on it inside, so it is worth picking up a leaflet.

      The Great Fire of London began in 1666 at a bakery on Pudding Lane, and lasted for five days. London in those days was built mainly of timber building and there was no structured planning, so the closely packed together streets meant the fire spread rapidly. Thousands of buildings were lost, including the original St Paul's cathedral. Amazingly there were only six recorded deaths, but an estimated 100,000 people were made homeless and thus destitute. Sir Christopher Wren undertook the rebuilding of much of London (which took 50 years) including St Paul's, many other churches and Custom House. He was also asked to design a monument to 'the destruction and rebirth of the City' which he did so in conjunction with his assistant Dr Robert Hooke.

      Built in 1671-7, The Monument is 15 feet in diameter and therefore it is quite narrow inside. The spiral staircase is stone and solid, so you feel perfectly safe as you climb the 311 steps. You can't see through the steps, but if you lean over the bannister on the inside you will be able to see all the way down. There are some narrow slit windows as you go up, so you can orientate yourself but no real passing points, so if you meet someone coming the other way, one of you needs to move to one side, but it is not much of a problem.

      Huffing, puffing and with wobbly legs you make it to the top. I did it much quicker than I expected. From the top you get good 360 degree views of London. The platform has metal wire all around it, which is secure and goes right over your head, so cannot be climbed. From here you can see Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, St Paul's and the Shard amongst other sights. It can be quite windy up here and you are open to the elements.

      After taking some photos we went back down again where you are presented with a certificate.
      I have to say that I think the monument is well worth doing. It I only suited for those who can walk up stairs, as there is no other access to the top. The admission price is cheap and money goes towards maintenance and restoration when needed.

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        27.05.2011 13:41
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        Well worth a visit

        We stopped off on the way home from holiday to sight-see for an afternoon in London. We were walking from Monument station to the Thames, to walk down to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and almost by accident came across the actual Monument, near London Bridge.

        When I spotted this exciting edifice, I stopped the family to take a photo in embarrassing tourist style. Then we noticed people at the top...

        I'd never known you could go up the Monument (it wasn't an attraction I'd ever thought of visiting before). We made an instant decision to go ourselves, and walked down to the entrance. There was no queue at the reception desk in the base of the tower, so we paid £3 per adult and £1.50 per child and started straight up. (Of course, we were visiting out of peak season, so there may well be waits during busy times).

        There were two staff visible, one of whom had a wonderful moustache with neatly twiddled ends, not something you usually see upon a young man! They were both very helpful and approachable.


        *** Up up up! ***

        Well, getting up there involves a spiral stone staircase, with a handrail in the middle. If you meet people going the opposite way, one person needs to press themselves to the wall to allow the other to pass. There are occasional hollows where the puffed-out can sit to regain their composure. There are also windows at intervals, giving glimpses of the views to come. It's well-kept and clean, with plenty of natural light, considering you're inside the walls of a skinny stone column.

        It took us a good few minutes to climb the 311 steps to the top. You step out onto the public gallery, approximately 160 feet above ground. The platform is a good couple of yards wide and encircles the Monument. A steel mesh encloses it, so there's no chance of toppling off (or climbing up to the gilt bronze tip were you such a daredevil!) but you can still take photos through it.

        It was quite a windy day, and we were blasted in one direction, which made the children shriek and laugh, but when we walked round we found calmer areas. The views out over London were absolutely fantastic: St Pauls Cathedral to one side, Tower Bridge and Thames, the big old glass Gherkin and the Millenium Eye. I took some nice snaps.

        There weren't that many other visitors, so it was a relaxed (in a hair-raisingly high kind of way) look around.

        Obviously the Monument isn't wheelchair accessible and isn't suitable for those with low mobility. Younger children and the elderly would also struggle. There is a panoramic camera system that can be accessed to enjoy the views and can also be found online at the Monument's website.


        *** Down down down ***

        Our descent was easy, although I'd be dreading it (I remember literally shuffling on my bum all the way down flights of stairs of a lighthouse once, as I was too petrified to walk! I seem to be getting over my fear of heights, largely).

        On our way out, we were given some lovely printed certificates to show we'd climbed the 311 steps to the viewing platform. These were really nicely done and unexpected, so added a lot of value in our eyes.

        I feel the Monument was well worth a visit.


        *** Why why why ***

        The Monument was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London of 1666 to the design of Sir Christopher Wren and has stood boldly over London since 1677. Now its neighbours loom large, but it's still an amazing piece of architecture. It is 61 metres high, which is also the distance it stands from the bakery where the Great Fire began in Pudding Lane.

        More history and information can be found at the Monument's website.


        *** Opening Information (as available from its website) ***

        Open Daily: 09.30 - 17.30 (last admission) 17.00
        Please call +44 (0) 207 626 2717 for details.

        Admission Prices:
        Adults £3.00
        Concessions: £2.00
        Child: £1.50

        Combined ticket with Tower Bridge Exhibition
        Adults: £9.00
        Concessions: £6.20
        Child: £4.00

        NOTE: Children of 13 years or younger must be accompanied by an Adult in order to climb the Monument.

        NOTE: The Monument is closed 24 - 26 December and the 1 January.

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          03.07.2009 20:56
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          A fantastic reminder to London's history

          I knew nothing about The Monument before visiting London about 20 years ago

          I'm fascinated by history (hence my visit to Tintagel Castle whilst on my most recent holiday), and it intrigued me to know why there was an underground station called Monument - what was it, and why was it there?

          So, after walking out of the station to find this towering statue in this narrow lane came as a surprise, and yes towering - at 61m high I found it incredibly difficult to see the very top.

          It was built between 1671 and 1677 as a commemoration to the Great Fire of London and a celebration of the rebuilding of the city of London. The fire itself starting in Pudding Lane in a Bakers Shop in 1666. It was designed by Christopher Wren and is exactly 61m (202 ft) - yes height is exactly it's distance East from the orginal location.

          Many designs were planned and the final one includes a plaque in Latin at the base and a gilt bronze urn at the very top.

          The Monument is not recognised as highly as Trafalgar Square, but it is a significant remorial to London's history.

          If you have a little time whilst you're there, it's certainly worth taking a look - why don't you look at it's website (link below).

          It also proves what can be done out of adversety, with so much of London destroyed in the fire during Charles II reign. Many of it's churches were designed by Christopher Wren including St Pauls - it's a story that inspires the imagination, and I will be visiting the site again when I visit the capital next month for a city break.

          http://www.themonument.info

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          10.06.2009 14:19
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          I'm sure it's great if you can actually make it to the top

          In 1666 London burnt down. When London was rebuilt it was decided that, although people were starving and homeless after losing their houses and most of their belongings, a monument would be built in memorial of the fire. Centuries later that monument is still standing, although if you are planning to visit The Monument you will be pleased to know that there has been a lot of maintenance work done on it.

          I had no interest in Monument at all. I was aware that it existed, I knew why it had been built but it just didn't interest me at all. However, when I found myself in the City with a couple of friends and one of them suggested that we go to the Monument I couldn't think of any reason why we shouldn't.

          To get into monument you can't be too big. I'm a size 16 and had to squeeze through a tiny little gate to get in. I can imagine than anyone who is much bigger will find it impossible. I'm not saying this as a complaint, the Monument was built centuries ago when people were smaller, I'm just warning you.

          The staff were really friendly. There was one man working in the little booth taking money and a woman stood at the bottom of the stairs giving out certificates to people as they left. A friend of mine was very nervous and the woman really put her at ease by making a joke and promising her a certificate when she gets back down.

          We then began to climb the 311 steps to the top.

          This is quite possibly one of the most unpleasant things that I've done in a long time. There's basically a spiral staircase that goes all the way up to the top of the 61 metre tall Monument. There are people coming down and people going up at the same time and as with all spiral staircases the outside of each step is quite narrow. Although I have not fallen down the stairs since I was a child I got really nervous. There's only a handrail on one side so when you pass someone on the stairs you have to choose between standing on the narrow side of the step and having something to hold onto or standing on the wider side of the step but not holding onto anything.

          Obviously 311 steps is quite a lot so you do have to think about your fitness level. Every now and then there are openings in the wall that are big enough for people to sit in so you can rest as you go up but I would not recommend this for anyone who is really unfit. I had to sit in them a couple of times because as I got higher I was beginning to feel more and more unsteady. I hadn't considered my fear of heights before going into Monument!

          I didn't make it to the top. I am ashamed to say that I was about 20 steps from the top and I turned around and walked back down. As I have said, I have a fear of heights and although I managed to stay calm for most of the way up as we got closer to the top the stair case got narrower and there were more people coming down, which was making it very difficult to move upwards. I held onto the handrail determined to get to the top, even if I would be too terrified to actually enjoy the view, but the handrail was feeling less stable and that was the final straw. I turned around and walked back down, leaving my friends to continue their journey without me.

          Going down is of course a lot worse than going up. Fortunately you can't really see how high up you are, unless you lean over the edge of the rail but I was not inclined to do so!

          I still received my certificate which also contains some interesting but brief information about the Monument.

          Overall I did not enjoy my experience. My friends said that the view was amazing but that's much good if you can't make it to the top! There's not really anything that can be done to improve this, it's an old building and no amount of renovation is really going to make it any better for people like me unless they completely changed the building which would defeat the purpose of visiting the Monument. This attraction simply wasn't for me. I can deal with heights, even though I'm scared of them, but not when they're coupled with a staircase that doesn't feel secure.

          Obviously this building is not accessible to wheelchair users and I would not recommend it for anyone with young children either.

          Admission is £3 for adults, with discounts available.

          For more information please visit: http://www.themonument.info/

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            20.06.2001 17:28
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            "In corners and upon steeples, and between churches and houses, as far as we could see up the city, a most horrid, bloody, malicious flame, not like the flame of an ordinary fire." - Samuel Peyps' eyewitness statement about the Great Fire of London in 1666. It started apparently on Sunday night, 2nd September, in a bakehouse down Pudding Lane, near what was then East Smithfield. London was a mainly wood-constructed city, but even the stone buidlings offered little resistance to the inferno. Now please forgive this huge chunk taken from an old book that I have, but although I'm middle-aged, even I wasn't around back then to be able to relate anything meaningful on the fire itself... *Taken from Walter Thornbury's 'Old London' - "On the Monday night of the fire, Mr. Evelyn described the whole north of the city on fire, the sky ablaze for ten miles around and the scaffolds around St. Paul's in flames. The following day he saw the stones of St. Paul's flying like grenades, the melting lead running in streams down the streets, the very pavements too hot for the feet, and the approaches too blocked for any help to be applied. A Westminster boy named Taswell, quoted by Dean Milman from 'Camden's Miscellany', has also sketched the scene. On Monday, the 3rd, from Westminster he saw, about eight o'clock, the fire burst forth and before nine he could read by the light of the blaze. The boy at once set out for St. Paul's, resting by the way upon Fleet Bridge, being almost faint with the intense heat of the air. The bells were melting and the vast avalanches of stones were pouring from the walls. Near the east end, he had found the body of an old woman, who had cowered there, burned to a coal. Taswell also relates that the ashes of the books kept in St. Faith's were blown as far as Eton and Windsor." The damage to the city was appalling. Over 400 acres was de
            vastated, destroying about 460 streets that contained 89 churches and 13,000 houses, and the many lives of those who were crammed into this space. The fire raged for 5 days. Sir Christopher Wren was responsible for the design of the huge column that was erected to commemorate the disaster, and worked in conjunction with Robert Hooke. It took six years to finish, and it's said that the height of 202 ft corresponds to the fact that the fire broke out 202ft to the east of the column. I visited the tower many years back, but it was impressive enough for the memory to remain with me, and I can well remember having to control my fear of heights in order to climb up over 300 steps to reach the top. You have to be reasonably fit in order to do this, and when I went there weren't any aids to making the trip up comfortable, like a rail to cling on to as you spiral round inside. I must have looked like a sweaty female version of Spiderman as I inched up the stairs with my back flat against the walls. I seem to remember that there was no central column to the staircase which meant that you could see all the way down to the bottom through this hole, but maybe that was something that evolved through my nightmares over the years... From the outside, the Monument is rather beautiful and graceful. The column is in the Doric style of greek architecture, which means that it is simple in design and fluted. The very top has a gilded urn that holds a globe rising from the flames, and below this the square viewing platform runs around it which offers staggering views over the city, and on a clear day in between the larger buildings of today, much further beyond. There are 3 panels on the high square base that record the story of the fire and the subsequent rebuilding of London, but be warned, it's in Latin. The fourth side has a relief showing King Charles II offering protection to the ruined city, (which brings the words 'stable door&#
            39;, 'horse' and 'bolted' to mind), but the bit I remember most was being told that a further inscription on the pedestal had had to be removed in the early 1800's because it ascribed the fire to the "Popish faction". It never fails to amaze me what people will blame simple accidents on. The Monument can be found close to London Bridge and the Tower of London, in Fish Street Hill, EC4. Monument underground station is close by. I paid a couple of quid when I went, but sadly I have no idea what the charge would be today. However, I could quite honestly say that whatever it was, it would be worth it.

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              04.07.2000 11:02
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              Just tucked away in a quiet corner of The City, off Eastcheap, lies The Monument – a reminder of the Great Fire of 1666. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the Monument is 202ft tall – if you were to lay this column down and point it West, the tip would sit on the spot where the fire actually started. Tourists can pay a fee (was a pound when I went! A few years ago now) to enter the column and climb the 311 spiral steps up to the balcony. From here, much of the city can be seen. Interestingly, you get a much better feel for the City from this viewpoint – the new buildings blending with the old, and the hurried commuters below. Of all the places I used to visit when working in The City, the monument is one of the most spectacular (and that`s even with my fear of heights!). To reach this historic landmark, head for Monument Tube which is right next door, or Cannon Street Station which is just a few minutes walk away. Active sightseers can cross London Bridge on foot to reach Monument from the South and take in the wonderful view of The River Thames and HMS Belfast en-route. If history is up your street, you could do worse than spend a few hours visiting this place! Note: To climb the spiral staircase, you will need to be reasonably fit.

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