Visiting the Temple Church London

Visiting the Temple the Church London is like stepping into a different world.  One minute you are on the busy Strand and then you duck  through an arch and immediately the bustle of the 21 century is behind you. Keep on meandering though a maze of narrow paths and you come across the Temple Church.

Exterior of Temple Church London
Temple Church, London

Origins of the Temple Church

The Temple Church is one of oldest places of worship in London.  It was consecrated in 1185 and built to be the headquarters of the Knights Templar in England.  The oldest part of the church is round, based on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is one of only four round churches in England.  The oblong chancel was added later in 1240.

Who were the Knights Templar?

View from above of round nave and effigies of knights at Temple Church London
Birds eye view of Temple Church

The Order of the Knights Templar was founded in 1119 as a military order to protect pilgrims.  Their headquarters was on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem but they had outposts across Europe.  The Knights became a wealthy and powerful organisation.  So powerful and with a secretive initiation ceremony they came to annoy Kings.  King Philip IV of France in particular, who lobbied the Pope.  In 1312 Pope Clement disbanded the Knights Templar.

Knights at the Temple Church

Effigies of Knights at the Temple Church London
Knights at Temple Church

The effigies of nine knights lie on the floor.  They have their eyes open and are all depicted as being in the early thirties, the age of Christ when he died.  These are not memorials but rather a reminder that the Knights are ready to spring into action again when Christ rises again.  The Knights of the Temple Church sprang to fame when they featured in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

King John, the Magna Carta and Temple Church

After the Knights Templar were disbanded the church came into the possession of the Crown.  King John used it as one of his London bases, the other being the Tower of London.  Discussions in the lead up to Magna Carta were held in Temple Church. 

Chancel Temple Church London
Oblong chancel

Lawyers and the Temple Church

Once King John had finished with the Church it came under control of the Knights Hospitaller’s who in turn rented it out to two legal colleges, early forerunners of Inner and Middle Temple.  With the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII the church came back into Royal control but the lawyers remained.  By this time Inner Temple has been built on the consecrated land surrounding the church and Middle Temple on the rest of the land. Finally in 1608 the Church was granted to Inner Temple and Middle Temple.

Encaustic tiles and the Temple Church

Encaustic tiles with the Lamb and Flag symbol of Middle Temple in the Temple Church
Lamb and Flag encaustic tiles

Tucked away in the corner where the circular and oblong church meets is a spiral staircase.  Clamber up the stairs to be rewarded with an excellent birds eye view of the church and floor paved with rather marvellous encaustic tiles.  Cistercian monks first made the tiles back in the 12th century, so some may well have graced the church back then.  They fell out of fashion until the Victorians rediscovered them.  The current crop of tiles adorned with the various symbols of Middle Temple, Inner Temple and the Temple Church are the product of Victorian renovation.

Temple Church Organ

Organ at Temple Church London
Temple Church Organ

Services at Temple Church have been accompanied by fine organ music for centuries.  The current organ took up residence in 1954 but wan’t actually built for Temple Church.  It started life in the ballroom of Glen Tanar House in Scotland but wan’t much used.  Lord Glentanar, donated the organ to the Temple Church and it was loaded on a train and installed by its makers Harrison and Harrison.  Most Wednesday lunch times there is an organ concert, free to attend but there is a retiring collection to cover the cost of the concert.  Take a look at the upcoming programme of organ concerts, perfect for a Cultural Wednesday lunch.

Round nave from ground level visiting the Temple Church London
Round Nave

Visiting the Temple Church

  • Temple Church, 1 Inner Temple Lane EC4Y 1AF
  • Open: Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm
  • Temple Church is a working church and has regular services during which visits are not possible. 
  • Admission: £5

Whilst you are in the area how about having lunch in Middle Temple Hall one of London’s oldest rooms?

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28 Comments

  1. May 13, 2018 / 12:48 am

    It’s hard to imagine a church that old and I love the knights, great angle for the shot as well. A nice photo set with some creative photography.

    • May 13, 2018 / 1:08 am

      Thank you, one of my first outings with my new grown up camera still not sure what any of the settings mean

  2. May 13, 2018 / 5:30 am

    Hi Catherine, that is an old church! Places like that give me goosebumps when I think of the things that must have gone on there. Love the story of the knights.

    xx

  3. May 13, 2018 / 6:44 am

    I may very well have to pay a visit to temple Church. Your photos do it incredible justice and while I have been in the are many times, never quite made it inside. It is also quite a bit cheaper than visiting St Paul’s! What history the building has.

  4. May 13, 2018 / 7:07 am

    This looks amazing! Just imagine all the people who have walked there before you. It’s mind blowing. Love the shot of the knights from above.

  5. Darren Coleshill
    May 13, 2018 / 8:17 am

    This looks stunning, I’ve never visited here before. I think this is a trip for the Summer

    Have a good Sunday and thank you for linking up to #MySundayPhoto

  6. May 13, 2018 / 9:59 am

    I love how you discover all these places and they’re usually off a very busy area. That ceiling is so stunning!

    • May 13, 2018 / 11:00 am

      Incurably curious, that’s me!

  7. May 13, 2018 / 10:33 am

    A beautiful and fascinating church. I have read several books about the Knights – it fascinates me.

    • May 13, 2018 / 11:01 am

      Its a story that has it all chivalry, power, secrets and intrigue!

  8. May 13, 2018 / 12:19 pm

    I wandered randomly into here while killing time on a work trip into London years ago. It’s a lovely church – I wonder if I can find it again?

    • May 13, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      Make sure that leave a trail of thread so you can find your way back to the Strand!

  9. May 13, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    What a beautiful old building.

  10. May 13, 2018 / 8:03 pm

    What a magnificent building. I do enjoy learning more about the Templar knights. So fascinating.

  11. May 13, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    It looks like a lovely church with plenty of interesting history.

  12. May 13, 2018 / 9:59 pm

    Beautiful! I have only ever walked past countless times, never been in! 🙂

  13. May 29, 2018 / 3:48 pm

    I love this church! My cousin got married there #citytripping

  14. August 25, 2018 / 8:57 pm

    This looks so interesting! I’ve been living in London for many many years and I’m still to visit this church. Putting it on the top of my list! 🙂

  15. November 1, 2018 / 7:44 pm

    The history of the Templars is fascinating- and yet somehow I have never been to the Temple church… Something to rectify sooner rather later. #farawayfiles

    • November 2, 2018 / 2:19 pm

      All the narrow alleyways surrounding the church make for an atmospheric outing!

  16. Clare Thomson
    November 2, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    I love the thinking behind the statues of the knights with their eyes wide open. I hadn’t appreciated that the Magna Carta was signed here either. I’ll have to pop in when I’m next on the Strand. Thanks for opening my eyes on #FarawayFiles

    • November 2, 2018 / 7:33 pm

      It is the perfect antidote to the bustle of the Strand

  17. November 2, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    You always share the most fascinating places! With so much history I would think a visit to this place would evoke some serious feelings of the people who once walked there. #farawayfiles

  18. November 3, 2018 / 12:02 pm

    Love this little bit of history, thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles!

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