Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Temple Church (London)

The Temple Church is one of the most interesting of the many churches in the City of London.

This church is situated in The Temple, the ancient and serene enclave which is now the main lawyers` quarter of London. It can be found to the South of Fleet Street by following Inner Temple Lane or the smaller Falcon Court.

The Knights Templar, founded in Jerusalem to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, established their English headquarters first at Holborn, then on land North of the River Thames and opened their church, dedicated to St. Mary, in 1185. Henry III expressed a desire to be buried here, although he later changed his mind and was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.

Like many of their other important churches, the Templars built this one to a circular design, based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which encompasses what traditionally are Jesus` crucifixion and burial sites.

The Templars were suppressed in 1312, when the Pope, the King of France and to a slightly lesser extent the King of England realised what fortunes could be made by discrediting them. Inventive stories were circulated about their alleged misdemeanours and sins, and the order was duly suppressed.

Most of their properties were transferred to the similar order, the Knights Hospitaller of St. John. The Temple property has belonged to the Crown since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, and has been the province of lawyers for most of that time.

Surviving the Great Fire of London, the Temple Church was damaged in the Blitz, and subsequently restored.

There are a number of striking 12th and 13th century stone effigies of Templar knights, including William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and Geoffrey de Mandeville.

Today, the Temple Church has become one of the most sought after tourist destinations in London, thanks largely to its part in Dan Brown`s hugely successful and controversial novel "The Da Vinci Code" and the subsequent film.

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