What to do with a spare hour in London when you right by the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand? Visit the Temple the Church, of course. You duck down a narrow alleyway and immediately the traffic filled hurly burly of London is left behind, you are in a world of narrow paths, seemingly unchanged for centuries.
The Temple Church is one of oldest places of worship in London, it was consecrated in 1215 and built to be the headquarters of the Knights Templar in England. The oldest part of the church is round, as were all the Templar churches, this is because the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where it is believed Jesus is buried is circular.
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.
About fifty years later the rectangular chancel was built. King John used the Temple Church as his London headquarters in months leading up to the signing of Magna Carta and it was here that the document was signed.
In one corner of the church I spied a spiral staircase which, it turned out, lead up to the gallery overlooking the round church and gives a fine view of the nine knights.
The area around the Temple Church is a fascinating place to wander around and is also home to Middle Temple Hall which you can also visit. If visiting the Templar Church has whetted your appetite for all things chivalrous the Museum of the Order of St John is also open to the public.
Temple Church Opening Times
Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm
Temple Church is a working church and has regular services during which visits are not possible. The church has a fine choir which sings both at the services and at concerts. Music plays a large part in the life of the church, every Wednesday lunch time there is an organ recital and many concerts are held in the church.
Admission is £5