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London Gardens Online


Paternoster Square City of London


Paternoster Square is an ancient space, rendered sacred by association with Paternoster Row where the clergy of St Paul’s used to walk in procession, telling their rosary beads and reciting the Paternoster prayer. It was once the site of the Newgate Meat Market. Bombed in 1940, Paternoster Square was laid out in 1956 as part of post-war reconstruction as a large pedestrian plaza surrounded by office blocks. Predominantly hard landscaped, it had seating, some planting and a bronze sculpture by Elisabeth Frink commissioned in 1975. Redevelopment plans were under discussion in the mid 1980s, but building only commenced in 2001, completed in 2003. The paved square retained the Frink sculpture in the north end and in the centre is the 23m high Paternoster Square Column. The historic Temple Bar was re-erected here as the entrance from St Paul's Cathedral and opened to the public in late 2004.

Basic Details

Site location:
Paternoster Square, St Paul's Churchyard

EC4M 7DX ( Google Map)

Type of site:

1960s; 1990s/2003

William Holford (1960s); to check Whitfield as designer of late 1990s layout

Listed structures:
LBI: Temple Bar

City of London

Site ownership:
private consortium

Site management:
private consortium

Open to public?

Opening times:

Special conditions:



Public transport:
St Paul's (Central)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:
Yes - St Paul's Heights Policy Area

Other LA designation:
Strategic Viewing Corridor

Paternoster Square

Paternoster Square, June 2010. Photo: S Williams

Click photo to enlarge.

Fuller information

Paternoster Square is an ancient space, rendered sacred by association with Paternoster Row, a street that has its origins in medieval times when the clergy of St Paul’s used to walk in procession, telling their rosary beads and reciting the Paternoster prayer. It had once been the site of the Newgate Meat Market. The Paternoster area was bombed in 1940 and in 1956 a redevelopment scheme by William Holford went ahead. Holford was one of the authors (with Charles Holden and Leslie Martin) of the 1947 Report on reconstruction in the City of London. Paternoster Square was laid out on an existing area of public open space as part of redevelopment north of St Paul’s Cathedral and consisted of a large pedestrian plaza above a car park surrounded by office blocks, predominantly hard landscaped, with seating, some trees, shrubs and flowers in planters. A bronze sculpture by Elisabeth Frink, ‘Paternoster - Shepherd and Sheep’, was commissioned for the Square in 1975. Raised walkways were to have linked to the City Walkway Network to London but were not built.

Described variously as ‘outstandingly well conceived’, draughty, harsh and forbidding, plans for the redevelopment of Paternoster Square were under discussion from the mid 1980s with various proposals put forward. A consortium of developers came together and a plan by John Simpson was initially adopted in 1989, with Terry Farrell as the master planners, which revived some of the old street layout. This was later superseded and a new scheme with Sir William Whitfield as consultant was undertaken, including a central colonnaded square. Building commenced in 2001 and was completed in 2003. The Frink statue was reinstated at the north end of the square on a new plinth. Also in the square is the Paternoster Square Column, designed by architects Whitfield Partners and constructed by stone-masons CWO (Cathedral Works Organisation); it is a 23m high Portland stone Corinthian column at the top of which is a flaming copper urn covered with gold leaf, which is illuminated by fibre-optic lighting at night.

The historic Temple Bar was re-erected as the entrance to the Paternoster Square redevelopment from St Paul's Cathedral (q.v.) and opened to the public in late 2004. Temple Bar, one of London's gateways, marked the boundary between City of London and City of Westminster. Commissioned by Charles II, the Portland stone arch was designed by Christopher Wren and constructed in 1669-1672. Traitors' heads were mounted on pikes and exhibited on the roof in the C18th. Temple Bar was dismantled in 1878 when the Corporation of London needed to widen the road, but the 2,700 stones were retained and stored. They were purchased in 1880 by the brewer Sir Henry Meux who re-erected the arch as a gateway at his house, Theobald's Park near Enfield, where it remained until 2003, although it had been purchased by the Temple Bar Trust from the Meux Trust for £1 in 1984. It was again carefully dismantled and has been re-erected by CWO at Paternoster Square.

Sources consulted:

Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed).

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