The Revolving Temple of Concord


The dazzling Temple of Concord was erected in 1814 in Green Park, London, to celebrate the end of wars with France and one hundred years of a Hanoverian monarchy. It was part of a scheme of temporary structures from which elaborate displays, pyrotechnics and mock battles were staged.

The mastermind behind the Temple was Lieutenant Colonel Sir William Congreve (1772–1828), a rocket designer and Comptroller of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich. He had served many campaigns throughout the Napoleonic Wars (1803–15), and led a company known as the ‘rocket brigade’ at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. Congreve designed the Temple with assistance from stage designers from the Theatre Royal and master engineers. The end result was a structure of such flamboyance and theatricality that the public were in awe upon its unveiling.

In this view thousands of spectators encircle the glittering temple, fully illuminated at midnight for the inaugural ceremony. It revolved so everybody could see its lavish decorations, which were rendered on semi-transparent fabric lit from behind with rows of oil lamps. Congreve had commissioned some of the nation’s best artists like Thomas Stothard to design and paint allegorical scenes on these ‘transparencies’, each tableau praising ‘the Triumph of England under the Regency’. Congreve had also designed a special type of firework, described by the magazine La Belle Assemblé as a rocket within which a ‘world of smaller rockets’ were contained so that as soon as it was discharged ‘it bursts and flings aloft into the air innumerable parcels of flames, brilliant as the brightest stars’. One can be seen shooting into the sky left of the Temple.

Though this pageantry was indeed impressive, the Temple was not built to last. After the celebrations had come to an end it was, according to The Gentleman’s Magazine, ‘offered for sale by private contract’ and ‘fell ingloriously under the hammer, in ninety-nine lots’ for only a fraction of the price it cost to make in the first place.

Full title:
THE REVOLVING TEMPLE OF CONCORD ILLUMINATED : As Erected in the Park in celebration of the glorious Peace of 1814. / J.H. Clark Del. ; M. Dubourg Sculpt.
1814, London
Hand coloured etching
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Maps K.Top.26.7.ff. 

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