If we have learnt one thing from the last year, it’s that the City of London is perhaps a more fragile thing than some of us thought. Resilient, yes; able to bounce-back, that too.
But nonetheless, as a community, as a place dripping with both history and innovation, we can never take it for granted again.
Part of what makes it great is its openness and its tolerance. Play by the rules, with a sound handshake and money you can trust, and you should be welcome here. The reminders of that are all around us – not least in the Square Mile’s religious architecture.
So City of London councillors, who voted yesterday to refuse an application for a 48-storey tower block which would have plunged the Bevis Marks synagogue into permanent shadow, have done the right thing.
No other synagogue in Europe has held continuous services for longer. Writing in these pages yesterday, no less an authority than the esteemed historian Tom Holland described Bevis Marks as “Britain’s single most historically significant monument to the role played by Jews in national life.”
Goodness knows, this newspaper wants more towers to be built in the City and beyond. They are symbols of London’s ambition, its global status, and its permanence.
There has barely been a planning application submitted in the Square Mile in recent years that we have not wholeheartedly supported – even the walkie talkie has become a celebrated part of our skyline, and that particular building’s history memorably includes its propensity to fry cars with its reflection.
We even see some beauty in 1 Poultry, memorably described by Prince Charles as closely resembling a “1930s wireless set.”
But as valuable as they are, so too are the things that underpin the capital’s ethos – that diversity and tolerance. Those are embodied by the candles that light Bevis Marks. Let it continue, like the City, to flourish for centuries yet.