During the war

The Monument has undergone frequent repair and redecoration. In May 1834 it was completely renovated and the gilt-bronze urn at the top re-gilded; the urn has since been re-gilded periodically, in 1954 when the column was also steam-cleaned and bomb scars removed.

During the 1939-45 World War, when the City was swept by fire for the second time in its history, and a third of it laid waste by high-explosive and fire bombs, the Monument was closed to visitors. Although many buildings, churches and halls of the Livery Companies were destroyed or seriously damaged during this period, Pudding Lane, where the 1666 Fire began, escaped serious damage. Like St. Pauls’, the Monument withstood the onslaught but received superficial damage from bomb fragments which scarred the base, though this was its nearest approach to disaster. An inscription records that the Great Fire broke out on 2nd September 1666 “at a distance eastward from this place of 202 feet which is the height of this column”; it is interesting to record that one of the first heavy high-explosive bombs to fall on the City landed in King Wiliam Street, almost exactly the same distance to the west on 9th September 1940.

Following the cessation of hostilities, the Monument was reopened to the public on 13th August 1945, since when it has attracted thousands of visitors each year. The total number of admissions in 1962 was 232,450.

Commemorating, as it does, such a momentous event as the Great Fire of London, the effect of which meant rebuilding most of the City, it is not surprising that this unique pillar of Portland stone is such a magnet, even those who live or work in London; to the tourist or visitor the Monument is a “must”, and those who achieve the climb to the public gallery will, on a clear day, be rewarded with a remarkably fine and stimulating view of London.

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