Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
Walton-on-thames, England, United Kingdom
September 4, 2009
New Delhi, India
August 13, 2006
The Temple Church was built by the Knights Templar in the heart of their headquarters in London- Temple. The two sections of the church, the Round and the Chancel, were constructed at different periods of time, the Round being the earlier of the two. It was consecrated in 1185 by the patriarch of Jerusalem. The Chancel was built 55 years later, in 1240.
To get to Temple Church, we got off at the Temple tube station and walked along Victoria Embankment till we reached the ornately carved stone gateway of Middle Temple. Through this, along a cobbled street, we walked on before turning right onto Crown Row, past a garden bursting with roses, larkspurs and blood-red geraniums, to Paper Buildings. From here, a left turn and a short walk till just beyond the Library brought us to the entrance to the Temple Church, which sits in a quiet courtyard paved with flagstones.
This is a classic round Norman church (round because it was designed on the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem), of lovely golden-brown stone. I could well believe that it was made by knights: the turret-like church tower has a distinctly martial look to it. Inside too, the Temple Church is different from most other churches, the most unusual feature being the nine stone effigies of knights that lie supine on the floor of the Round. The effigies are very varied: some are in excellent condition, with details like face, weapons and armour relatively intact; in others, almost nothing remains except a block of stone shaped like a human figure. Among the effigies is that of William Marshall (died 1219), first Earl of Pembroke, Regent for Henry III, and the most prominent mediator between the barons and King John in 1215.
We spent a while looking at the effigies, then wandered through the Round and the Chancel, admiring the lovely stained glass windows, particularly above the altar. The altar itself is decorated with wood panels painted with the Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. The Chancel, which was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of London, was rebuilt in parts by Sir Christopher Wren. Today, with its soaring columns, its imposing organ, its pews, candles, and masses of flowers, it’s a bright, airy place, perfectly suited to the frequent performances of classical and sacred music for which it is a venue.
The Temple Church is open most days, but timings tend to be erratic because of music rehearsals and church activities. Check the church website before you visit, to guard against disappointments. There is no entry fee, though a small donation is very welcome.
From journal London Revisited: Something Old, Something New