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  • Writer's pictureLondon On The Ground

Art on a plate: Temple Bar's hidden treasures

Unique, architect-designed plates recognise support for the Architects Benevolent Society.

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
The 2011 plate by Ken Shuttleworth. Photo ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar

City of London livery companies are known for their plate - impressive collections of gold and silverware - but the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects proudly displays original ceramic art plates in its hall.


These artworks have been designed by many of the UK's leading architects. The hall is not generally open to the public, but I have been given exclusive permission to reproduce photos of the plates by the Company's Head of Outreach and Education, Grant Smith.

 

Walks available for booking

For a schedule of forthcoming London On The Ground guided walks, including the next tour of the area around Temple Bar (which includes access to the inside of the gatehouse and the architects' plates), please click here.

 

The Architects' Company has the youngest and smallest livery hall. This consists of a little room inside Temple Bar, a 17th century stone gatehouse between St Paul's Cathedral and Paternoster Square (see my post on the Temple Bar Memorial for more on the background to the gatehouse), and a slightly larger room in the 21st century building that adjoins it.

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
Inside Temple Bar

The Architects' Company awards an original ceramic plate each year in recognition of fund raising efforts in support of the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS). The ABS offers advice and support to architects and their families in times of need.


Every year since 2003 the Master of the Architects' Company commissions a member to design a new plate, which is presented in September at the final formal function of the Master's year in office. Only one replica of each plate is made, for display on the wall of the Company's hall on Paternoster Square.

 

Peter Murray, a Past Master, has the distinction of being the only person so far to have commissioned, won, designed and been featured in plates for the ABS award.

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
Peter Murray on his bike. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar

However, he will soon be joined by Chris Williamson, who will commission one in his role as the current Master of the Company. He has previously won and designed a plate and featured in one. 

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
Chris Williamson running the marathon. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar

Designers of ABS plates are all eminent architects. Among their number are Sir Terry Farrell (2005 plate), designer of the MI6 Building, Charing Cross Station and, in the City of London, 125 London Wall (Alban Gate).

 

A few other examples of plate designers are noted in the following paragraphs.


Ken Shuttleworth (2011 plate) worked with Norman Foster on, among other things, the Millennium Bridge and the Gherkin, before founding Make Architects in 2004 (whose buildings include the City of London Information Centre).

 

Eric Parry's (2008 plate) extensive London CV includes restoration work to St Martin-in-the-Fields and new buildings at 5 Aldermanbury Square, 30 Finsbury Square and the London Stock Exchange just across Paternoster Square from Temple Bar.

 

Angela Brady (2012 plate) was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects during the 2012 London Olympics.


Michael Hopkins, architect of the London 2012 Velodrome, depicted that building in his design for the 2014 ABS Team Award.

 

Karen Cook, a founder of PLP Architects, led the design of 22 Bishopsgate (the City of London's tallest building and the second tallest in the UK after the Shard) before leaving to form Spice Architects in 2022.

 

Her design for the 2023 plate portrays the ABS Chicken Run, a 5km fun run fund raiser for the Society. The imagery includes a crown (in the coronation year of Charles III) and a pencil, ruler and callipers (important architectural tools). She also shows Temple Bar - in front of the dome of St Paul's - and iconic London skyscrapers The Shard, the BT Tower and 22 Bishopsgate.

 

Temple Bar also appears prominently in Chris Williamson's 2020 design and can be seen in Sir Terry Farrell's 2005 plate. Careful inspection of the 2003 inaugural ABS plate, designed by David Rock, reveals that Temple Bar again features, this time as part of the coat of arms of the Architects' Company.


 

On a number of other occasions in addition to Karen Cook's 2023 Chicken Run design, the plate has been won by people that have undertaken a sponsored cycle ride or run to raise funds for the ABS.

 

This is evident in Sunand Prasad's design of 2014, depicting individual award winner Peter Murray on his bicycle (see above).


The Velodrome image in the 2014 Team Award echoes the winners' epic cycle ride from Portland, Oregon to Portland Place (headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects) over a three month period in 2013.

 

Peter Murray's own 'Wheels within Wheels' design for the 2018 plate combines a bicycle wheel, a wheelchair wheel, the London Eye and the Brighton i360. It was awarded to Ian Maskell, who pushed his wheelchair the 100 miles between the two landmarks after injuring his spine in a cycling accident.

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
Wheels within Wheels by Peter Murray, for Ian Maskell. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar

Chris Williamson is shown running the London Marathon in Chris Dyson's 2019 design (see above). The reverse of the plate bears the words "Finishing a marathon is a state of mind that says anything is possible".

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
Reverse of 2019 plate. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar

The plates

Below are photos of every plate awarded by the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects to recognise support for the Architects Benevolent Society, from 2003 to 2023 (with thanks to Grant Smith for supplying the photos).

Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
2003. Designed by David Rock, won by Louis Hellman. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society, Temple Bar
2004. Designed by Will Alsop, won by Ian Jarvis. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2005. Designed by Sir Terry Farrell, won by George Ferguson. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2006. Designed by Birkin Haward, won by the Montgomery family. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2007. Designed by Chris Wilkinson, won by Robert and Irene Crapnell. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2008. Designed by Eric Parry, won by Colin Morse. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2009. Designed by John Lyall, won by Elisabeth and Malcolm Thirkettle. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2010. Designed by Russell Brown, won by Populous. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2011. Designed by Ken Shuttleworth, won by Dawson Stefox. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2012. Designed by Angela Brady, won by Abu Siddiki. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2013. Designed by George Ferguson, won by CIAT. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2014 Team Award. Designed by Michael Hopkins, won by P2P Team. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2014 Individual Award. Designed by Sunand Prasad, won by Peter Murray. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2015. Designed by Timorous Beasties on behalf of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, won by Michael Dougall. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2016. Designed by Michael Stiff, won by Pollard Thomas Edwards. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2017. Designed by George Saumarez-Smith, won by RIAS. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2018. Designed by Peter Murray, won by Ian Maskell. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2019. Designed by Chris Dyson, won by Chris Williamson. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2020. Designed by Chris Williamson, won by the Archivelo Group. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2021. Designed by Jane Duncan, won by Eddie Weir. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2022. Designed by Hawkins Brown (architects to Tottenham Court Rd station upgrade, depicted), won by The Birmingham Architectural Association. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar
Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects plate for the Architects Benevolent Society
2023. Designed by Karen Cook, won by Howells. Photo: ©Grant Smith/Temple Bar

See the plates for yourself

The Architects' Company and the Temple Bar Trust open Temple Bar for some outreach events such as talks and as the start/end point for occasional guided walks.


I lead a walk around the neighbouring area every two months for the Temple Bar Trust, which includes access to the gatehouse and the adjoining room where the plates are displayed. This is next available on 23 May 2024 at 11am - see here for details and tickets

 

Walks available for booking

For a schedule of all forthcoming London On The Ground guided walks, please click here.

 

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