What Exactly Is: Marble Arch?

Delve into the second part of a new series on the blog which takes a closer look at some of London’s most iconic landmarks and their origins…

What exactly is Marble Arch? Who built it and why is such a grand structure sitting on what is essentially a traffic island?

The answer takes us away from the bottom end of Oxford Street and over to none other than Buckingham Palace, for this is the original state entrance for the palace, designed by celebrated architect (and one of my favourites) John Nash back in 1827, with the structure completed in 1833.

This three arch design is actually based on the Arch of Constantine in Rome and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In fact, the marble used in its construction came from quarries in Italy.

When the palace was enlarged during Queen Victoria’s reign, the arch was dismantled and when rebuilt after work was completed, no room could be found for it to remain and so it became a ceremonial entrance to Hyde Park.

Later when the area was reworked to manage traffic it found itself at its current location. Spare a thought for it next time you are close by…

Incidentally, there are three small rooms inside the arch which were once used by the Metropolitan Police, though not as a station as some as stated (that would be Wellington Arch).

One last note, next time you are in Trafalgar Square take a look at the statue of George IV on horseback and imagine it fixed to the top of the arch- that was its original purpose.


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