An imported Roman temple

I never knew that a temple from Leptis Magna had been given to George IV by the Bashaw of Tripoli. Anyway, it’s being restored.
Staines News

Runnymede’s Roman ruins back to their best

Mar 9 2009 By Russell Butt
Expert stonemason, Mick Murphy, does some intricate work on the final stone of the ruins

Expert stonemason, Mick Murphy, does some intricate work on the final stone of the ruins

The restoration of an ancient ruin was completed on Thursday when the final decorative stone was put into place.

A 25-tonne crane was needed to lower the final stone on top of the Roman pillars of the ‘thousands of years old’ Leptis Magna ruins in Windsor Great Park, Virginia Water, on March 5.

The moment marked the completion of a restoration project started in November to restore the condition of the ruins, which had weathered severely, since being brought to the UK from Libya in 1818.

The project also involved the re-standing of seven columns that had fallen and a new ground level viewing platform being built.

Windsor Great Park deputy ranger, Philip Everett, said the work was essential to maintain the historic integrity of the Grade I listed landscape.

He added: “The restoration is a fundamental part of our stewardship responsibilities and will allow visitors to see the Leptis Magna ruins as viewed by King George IV.

“The work will not only provide a new viewing point for the public, but we have secured the preservation of the ruins for generations to come.”

Given to King George IV as a gift from the Bashaw of Tripoli, the Roman ruins are the remains of an old temple, brought to England from Leptis Magna, in Tripoli nearly 200 years ago. The King’s favourite architect, Sir Jeffry Wyatville, decided to erect them on the southern bank of the lake in Virginia Water.
snr_leptis-magna_images Image 8

Heading the restoration project, conservation architect Barry Stow, said replacing the columns and entablatures was not straight forward.

He added: “One of the more challenging aspects of working on the restoration is that we do not fully know the architect’s original intention.

“We have artistic impressions but these tend to be romanticised and lack accurate detailsm, so we have to base our assessment on the first photographs of the Edwardian era, together with physical evidence on site.”

The Leptis Magna ruins will re-open to the public in late May.

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One Response

  1. I am not so sure that the author is correct in calling this a “temple”. It is known that a large number of columns were allowed to be carried off from Leptis. The book “Libya, The lost cities of the Roman Empire” by Robert Polidori records that many columns from the main colonnaded street and the Hadrianic Baths were taken. In fact green marble columns from the baths were abandoned on the beach when they could not be loaded onto the ship during the period 1686 and 1708. The bath columns were apparently many taken to Versailles where they were split to make floors. The book also records the taking of the columns to Windsor Great Park. It could be that the temple is ersatz and composed out of various bits and pieces to make a “temple” in the ruined Arcadian style. In fact its a pity the columns weren’t sent back to Leptis… they obviously weren’t appreciated where they were for a very long time.

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