Have you ever, in an idle moment, thought to yourself “I must find out what the tallest isolated stone column in the world is”? No? Neither have I. But today I went up it. It’s a monument. In fact it’s The Monument, which was built to commemorate the Great Fire which destroyed much of the City of London in the seventeenth century. Inscribed in Latin at the bottom is:
In the year of Christ 1666, on 2 September, at a distance eastward from this place of 202 ft, which is the height of this column, a fire broke out in the dead of night which, the wind blowing, devoured even distant buildings, and rushed devastating through every quarter with astonishing swiftness and noise … On the third day … at the bidding, we may well believe, of heaven, the fire stayed its course and everywhere died out.
Inside the column are 311 steps illuminated by some rather sickly florescent light and stabs of sunlight through the original slit windows. They circle up to a caged viewing platform just below the extraordinary golden spiky mutant pineapple thing (apparently a “flaming urn”) perched on the top.
It was surprisingly crowded and whenever I stopped to attempt to take a picture in these less than ideal circumstance someone walked into the shot. Here is a rather anxious-looking young man coming down as we went up.
And here is a valiant mother carrying her daughter up as we went down.
I have an incurable passion for these spirally snaily shell-like organic patterns of mathematical beauty. The lines are better seen with the strange colours of the algae and florescent lights
Sadly one of the more obvious monuments to contemporary British society is the enormous number of CCTV cameras recording almost our every move.