The uniquely beautiful Temple Church is one of the most historic in the city of London. With a history dating from the time of the crusades to the present day the church has been the focal point of much religious and musical activity for centuries. The church was built during the 1100’s by the Knights Templar. There are two distinct parts of the church, the chancel and the round. The round was designed to reflect the most holy place in the world of the Crusader Knight, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the sacred city of Jerusalem. This distinctive part of the church lends itself well to the raising of voices in song as it affords musicians some incredible acoustic properties.
The Knights Templar
Consecrated in 1185 by the then Patriarch of Jerusalem, Heraclius, the temple community came to the new site of Temple Church from their existing church in Old Holborn. As this was the church that was sited at and serving the Knights Templar in London, the name Temple Church was deemed highly appropriate. It was the mission of the Knights Templar, the warrior men of God to protect the lives and welfare of pilgrims on their journey both to and from the Holy Land. All Templar’s churches are built to the distinctive round design of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on what is believed to be the site where Jesus was buried. In the beginning the Templars were generally accepted and well liked, gaining much support from both kings and popes. It is believed that Henry II was there at the service when the church was consecrated in 1185. Much has been made of the history of the Knights Templar, both as heroes and villains, a visit to Temple Church will allow you to experience something of the truth about this Knights of God.
At the time of its consecration the interior of the church was much more vibrant than it is now. The walls would have been rich in colour and the heads of the grotesques that line the walls would have also been painted. This was a modern church for its time, whilst the design mirrored centuries of history. All medieval maps showed the city of Jerusalem at their centre, and Jerusalem was at the very centre of the Templar’s beliefs. The church of the Holy Sepulchre that they inherited was of a distinctive round design, and it was this ancient burial place that they were charged with protecting from all enemies and at all costs.
This ancient building was the focal point for pilgrims from all quarters of the Christian world and it was to be protected from all who would destroy it and the belief system it represented. The most powerful of all of the nights that served the Templars would be buried in their churches and you can see their stone effigies within the ancient round of Temple Church, as this was akin to them being buried in the sacred city of Jerusalem itself.