Visiting Temple Church in London :
Now might be the time to visit Temple Church in London. The buzzing Da Vinci Code fans are now long gone, but this wonder of medieval artistry remains!
And this is one of the lightest and most airy medieval churches that you will ever visit. The natural lighting and stain glass windows are magnificent.
The Knights Templar built Temple Church. Thus the name. The Knights Templar were founded in the 12th century to protect pilgrims visiting Jerusalem. Eventually, the Knights Templar grew too powerful and attracted too many powerful enemies. The myth of the Knights Templar continues unabated despite their demise hundreds of years ago.
Temple Church History
The Knights Templar built beautiful churches all over Europe. In London, the Knights Templar built The Temple Church as part of an overall plan for a monastic complex. The complex was to act as the Templar headquarters for England.
The original Round Church, or nave, was competed in 1185, while the adjoining rectangular building called the Chancel, was finished later. The Round Church was designed to reflect the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was also round. There are very few round churches in western Europe. And so Temple Church is quite unique in this regard.
During the time of King John (of Robin Hood fame) it was used as the royal treasury. This was because the Knights Templar provided an early system of international banking. The church was extensively renovated by Henry III. In fact, one of his sons was interred in the church. Later, Kind Edward II seized the church and passed it on to the Knights Hospitaller.
German bombs set the Round Church on fire on 10 May 1941. And the fire quickly spread to the nave and chapel. The church suffered extensive damage but was restored to identical form.
Currently, it is jointly owned by the Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Inns of Court, which are professional associates for English barristers and solicitors. As a lawyer myself, I found walking through these grounds to be an amazing experience.
The church is not large. In fact, I found it much smaller than I had imagined. Still, there are many beautiful things to see and do here. The Round Church is unique, and you are able to climb the stairs and look out over the internal balcony.
Also interesting are the stone effigies of knights that are found in the Round Church. also reside there. The most famous effigy is that of William Marshal. He was described as the “best knight that ever lived.” He rose from humble beginnings to power, acting as regent when Richard I was abroad on crusade. The effigies were made famous in the Da Vinci code.
Entry charge: £5.00 (£3.00 senior citizens and students) but free to kids 16 and under, members or staff of the Inns or of Chambers; and worshipers.
Unlike many churches in London, however, photography is encouraged at Temple Church.
How to get to Temple Church
Temple Church is located between Fleet Street and Embankment in a cool network of paths, buildings and gardens.
Temple and Blackfriars are the nearest underground stations. There are a number of entrances from Fleet, Embankment and Tudor streets. But I like to enter via Temple Lane. It’s part of the mystery. That’s just me, however.
Looking for more information on visiting London? Check out my guide to visiting the London Eye and my guide to visiting Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden!