The proposed Fleet Street Heritage Sundial project

Home             Designer             Support            Existing heritage             Please donate


Update - end-April 2020_________________________________________________
Anew non-profit company, the Fleet Street Sundial Community Interest Company (CIC) has been registered at Companies House as company number 12577303. The company will be responsible for delivering the sundial project, and also for this website. Its correspondence address is 130 Cliffords Inn, London, EC4A 1BY, and its email address is

Update - end-April 2020___________________________________________________
The Bulletin of the British Sundial Societyhaspublished an article "A new sundial for central London?"   Read the article here

Update - early April 2020___________________________________________________ The Press Gazette has kindly published an article "Designer of sundial celebrating Fleet Street's newspaper heritage seeks donations. Doweled the article here

Update - mid-March 2020____________________________________________________
The City of London has now granted full planning permission for the sundial and for the 3 plaques at ground level We are hoping to start the constriction of the sundial in May this year. Before then, we have to raise 22,000 to pay for the painting, scaffolding, and all the other costs of the project. If you would like to help with this, please let us know by emailing Please see the heritage statement and design and access statement submitted with out planning application

As o f20th March, donations and pledges totaled£2,600 towards our target of £24,000 by May. (Private donations are shown in red, corporate in green) You can now follow progress our Donate page and on the Twitter account @allsundials

Background - the Struggle for the Freedom of the Press

The Freedom of the Press is something rather taken for granted nowadays, but it is worth a reminder that it was not always so, and that it had to be fought for. As recently as the 1530s, all printed master had to be approved by the Privy Council before publication. Similar restrictions applied up to the Civil War in 1640. Under the Commonwealth, there were no restrictions, but they were imposed again in 1662, with the Printing Act. Benjamin Harris was sent to prison for defaming the King's authority. Magazines began to appear, and the first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant was published in 1702. But the government became unhappy about the increasing popularity of newspapers and started to impose a tax, initially of a penny a sheet. In 1762, John Wilkes started a newspaper, the North Briton, to criticise the government led by the Earl of Bute and was charged with seditious libel. He spent 22 months in prison. The tax was raised to three pence a copy in 1802 and to four pence in 1815, in a deliberate attempt to reduce the circulation of newspapers critical of the war with France. In 1819, Richard Carlile started publishing The Republican Later that year, he was convicted of blasphemy and seditious libel and sent to prison. The stamp tax was reduced to one penny in 1836 and was finally abolished in 1851, and this enabled to newspaper industry, mainly based around Fleet Street, to flourish and develop into the powerful force we know today.

Fleet Street Heritage Sundial - Project Outline

For more than two centuries, the term "Fleet Street " has been synonymous with the newspaper industry in Britain. Now,, all the newspapers which used to be published in the neighbourhood of Fleet Street have moved to other locations, leaving little trace of their passing.

Fortunately, there is a large blank wall on the corner of Bouverie Street and Fleet Street, which has had nothing on it for sixty years or more. It is ideally suited to have a sundial on it, and, because the wall faces a few degrees north of East, the hour lines on the sundial will be nearly parallel, so that it would be possible to fit the mastheads of 5 or 6 of the newspapers that used to be published nearby

The junction of Fleet Street and Bouverie Street - see map

The selection of newspaper mastheads will be made at a later stage

East-facing sundials do not, of course, have sunshine on them in the afternoon, so this sundial would have the sun on it for most of the morning. Later in the day, and even at night, the sundial would still be clearly visible. The image above shows the face of the proposed sundial, which would be placed on the top half of the wall. The selection of the newspaper mastheads is purely illustrative, and will depend on which newspapers wish to be represented.

The Republican is shown on the top line, because it was actually published from this address in Fleet Street by Richard Carlile, famous for being the only advocate of the freedom of the press who was sent to prison for it. (It was published between 1819 and 1828).

The Pall Mall Gazette was the first national daily newspaper. It was founded in 1865 and amalgamated with the Evening Standard in 1923. It ran a number of radical campaigns, most notably against child prostitution.

. The other slots will be filled by the mastheads of some of the newspapers that are still published, though now printed in other locations.


The other sundials in central London designed by Piers Nicholson are shown on our designer page

If you like the idea of this project, and hope that it will go ahead, please add your name to our list of supporters.