An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile                                
        An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile

                                 
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          Temple Church                                          
          cowled and crowned head (1687, restored)                                    
         
Temple Church is a royal peculiar rather than a parish church, like Westminster Abbey. It is set among the Inns of Court off of Fleet Street, and is jointly owned by the Inner Temple and Middle Temple. It is best known for being one of England's few surviving round churches, built in that style by the Knights Templar. More significantly, the 12th Century interior shows some of the very earliest evidence in England of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. The huge chancel, by far the biggest in the city, was added fifty years later and is fully in the Early English style.

The church escaped the Great Fire (just) but was still refitted by Sir Christopher Wren with furnishings considered more suitable for protestant worship. The church is famous for its 13th Century effigies of knights and replicas of those of kings. In fact, everything you see is completely restored, as is the church around it - the building was gutted during the Blitz of 11th May 1941, and the late 1950s restoration required the complete refacing of the building both inside and out. Happily, many of Wren's furnishings, including the spectacular reredos commissioned from William Rounthwaite, had been removed to storage by the Victorians, and were put back in the church. The effigies were severely damaged that night, but they had in any case been heavily restored on several occasions in the 19th Century. For me, they were not the most interesting thing about the interior, for that was the terrific scheme of stained glass at the east end by Carl Edwards of 1957-58.

Temple Church is one of two city churches you have to pay to get into, the other being St Bartholomew the Great. Temple church is by no means as spectacular as St Barts, but it is still worth a visit even if you weren't being trainspotterish and completist like me. Unlike St Barts, opening days are not regular or predictable, but are shown for the month ahead on the church website.

Simon Knott, December 2015


location: Temple EC4Y 7BB - 1/063
status: working royal chapel
access: Five pounds entrance fee. Irregular opening hours, usually open in the afternoon, some mornings too, but check the website.
website

Temple Church nave and column Temple Church chancel west doorway Temple Church looking east Temple Church looking west nave roof chancel looking east looking east reredos by William Rounthwaite, 17th Century knight king and censing angel knight king king Gilbert Marshall and a chained dragon nave roof for his loyalty & valour signaliz'd at Edge Hill fight exemplary for piety charity humility chastity constancy & patient suffering with her husband for the truth in times of persecution and rebellion restored after war damage repaired and beautified 1687 skull and crossed bones Bishop clerestory window by Carl Edwards, 1958 west window by William Warrington the young Christ preaching in the temple by Carl Edwards, 1958 Christ the Man of Sorrows by Carl Edwards, 1958 Beauseant Amaric de Soamaur by Carl Edwards, 1958 Beauseant Geoffrey filius Stephanus by Carl Edwards, 1958 Beauseant Robert de Montfort by Carl Edwards, 1958 Beauseant Alanus Marcel by Carl Edwards, 1958 King Stephen commissions Temple Church by Carl Edwards, 1958 two Knights Templar on horseback ride behind the reredos by Carl Edwards, 1958 The Glaziers Company by Carl Edwards, 1958 Pegasus by Caroline Benyon, 2000 Agnus Dei by Caroline Benyon, 2000 Sacrificial lamb by Carl Edwards, 1958 Christ in Majesty by Carl Edwards, 1958 Blessed Virgin and the Christ child by Carl Edwards, 1958 Presentation in the Temple by Carl Edwards, 1958 King Stephen by Carl Edwards, 1958 Temple Church by Carl Edwards, 1958 The London Blitz by Carl Edwards, 1958 Christ drives out the money changers by Carl Edwards, 1958 two angels by Carl Edwards, 1958 Agnus Dei on the cross of St George

 

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          home   index   map   latest   e-mail   about this site   resources   small print   simonknott.co.uk   norfolkchurches.co.uk   suffolkchurches.co.uk
     
An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile
                               
        An occasional saunter through the churches of the Square Mile