Monumental

01Oct10

I climbed the 311 steps of London’s Monument as briskly as I could. Built by Sir Christopher Wren and his collaborator Robert Hooke in the 1670s, the Monument is a tall column. Ostensibly to commemorate the Great Fire, the tower might also have been constructed as a laboratory for covert experiments in physics.

These days Italian teenagers continue the scientific tradition with experiments in hydrodynamics (spitting over the edge), gravitational force (throwing things over the edge) and optics (taking photos of each other throwing things over the edge).

My brisk progress up the steps was frequently interrupted to squeeze past nervous American girls who didn’t want to lean against the railing of the open central well of the spiral staircase. I could understand this. According to the history books the railing had been in place since the 19th century, when people were lighter and shorter.

At the top there was a View.

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3 Responses to “Monumental”

  1. 1 Kinside

    Looking forward to hearing about the view! Here in Oxford the new students are all arriving now and throwing up their own experiments in optics, hydrodynamics and gravitational force…

  2. 2 John

    Did you know that the height of the monument is the exact distance from the spot where the fire was supposed to have started.

    • John – yes, I did look carefully from the viewing balcony, but there was no sign of any scorch marks. They must have repainted.


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