Sunday, May 28, 2023

Temple Church (St Mary's)

London The Unfinished City
Temple Church.

Saturday May 27, 2023.

The Temple Church is famous throughout the world as the church of the Knights Templar and was a place that I long wished to visit.

It was by pure chance that while wandering along Fleet Street I noticed that the gates to Temple Church were open, with an A-board advertising that the church was open for viewing. So, through the gate I headed.

The narrow passageway soon opened up and, in front and to my left, the Round of Temple Church came into view. 

London The Unfinished City
Approaching Temple Church from the north with the Great Norman Doorway.

I made my way around to the south of the building, which is the best place from which to view the church and is where the entrance is situated.

London The Unfinished City
The Temple Church from Church Court.

After admiring the architecture and the surrounding buildings, which are filled with law firms and the like, I entered the church.

Now, I have been inside many churches, cathedrals and abbeys all of varying size and stature, but Temple Church is on another level, in my opinion.

I was immediately struck by the juxtaposition of the Round, which acts as the nave, and the more usual straight lines and pews of the chancel. But, it works.

Stepping around John Selden's tomb I made my way into the Round with its grotesques, all of which are different, the effigies of knights and the tomb of William Marshal, First Earl of Pembroke, who was described as the greatest Knight that ever lived.

London The Unfinished City
Effigies in the Round.

Then there were two statues of Barons that depict two of the Barons who were at Runnymede to ensure that the King would conform to Magna Carta.

London The Unfinished City
A statue of a Baron.

Once I had thoroughly viewed the Round, I made my way towards the main chancel, with its Glen Tanar organ, altar and various historical artefacts. 

London The Unfinished City
The Altar and windows of the chancel.

The stained glass windows were radiant as the afternoon sun shone in the cloudless sky, illuminating the interior of the church.

London The Unfinished City
The motif of the Knights Templar.

After a good look around I made my upstairs to the triforium, from where I could look down into the Round. The floor of the triforium is covered with Minton tiles from the Victorian era.

London The Unfinished City
Looking into the Round from the triforium.

Once back down in the chancel I had another look around, to make sure that I hadn't missed anything, before heading out and into the afternoon sun.

In the Church Court a column stands with a bronze statue of two knights on a single horse, a motif that was on the Knights Templar seals in the Middle Ages. The column stands on the spot where the Great Fire of 1666 was extinguished.

London The Unfinished City
The column and the Round.

I then went for a wander through the Inns of Court, since I was there, before heading back to Fleet Street to continue my walk.

London The Unfinished City
Farrar's Building.

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