Temple Church, London

Knights Templars

One of the most important church buildings in London – and indeed in England – it was built as the Holy Sepulchre Church by Knights Templars returning from the Holy Land in 1185. There are two distinct parts of the church, the Round Church and the Chancel. The Round Church, the earliest part and one of four surviving in England (see also Round Church, Cambridge; Holy Sepulchre, Northampton) was consecrated by the patriarch of Jerusalem in 1185.

It is probable that Henry II was present at the consecration and Henry III liked the church so much he wanted to be buried here and a rebuild was undertaken in 1240 to accommodate this, which is when the Chancel was added. Only once he was dead was it found that Henry had changed his mind and he ended up in Westminster Abbey. One powerful man who was buried in the Round Church was William the Marshall, Earl of Pembroke along with his sons and their effigies are still there today.

The fortunes of the church fell with the Templars who ended up being disbanded forcibly 1312. The church then became a parish church and slowly disappeared into history. The buildings of the Inns of Court were erected around the church and it ended up becoming a church mainly to service the various lawyers and barristers who worked in the area.

However, the modern age has seen the Temple Church emerge as an important tourist destination in a quiet and forgotten corner of London and is a place of tranquillity and ancient grace which is well worth seeking out.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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