Temple Bar is the barrier (real or imaginary) marking the westernmost extent of the City of London on the road to Westminster, where Fleet Street (extending westwards) becomes the Strand. Until 1878, this boundary was demarcated by a stone gateway designed by Christopher Wren.
In the Middle Ages, the authority of the City of London Corporation reached beyond the city's ancient walls in several places (the Liberties of London); to regulate trade into the city, barriers were erected on the major roads wherever the true boundary was a substantial distance from the old gatehouse. Temple Bar was the most famous of these, since traffic between London (England's prime commercial centre) and Westminster (the political centre) passed through it. Its name comes from the Temple Church, which has given its name to a wider area south of Fleet Street, the Temple, once belonging to the Knights Templar, but now home to two of the legal profession's Inns of Court), which is located nearby.
It has long been the custom that the monarch stop at Temple Bar before entering the City of London, so that the Lord Mayor may offer him or her the City's pearl-encrusted Sword of State as a token of loyalty. This historic ceremony has often featured in art and literature, as well as shown on television when it occurs at special occasions in the present era. However, the popular view that the monarch requires the Lord Mayor's permission to enter the City is incorrect.
Today Temple Bar (like other major entrances to the City of London) is marked by a stone monument in the middle of the roadway, topped by a statue of a griffin, a winged lion with the head of an eagle; a pair of dragons are more properly supporters of the City's arms.