Temple Church in London became known to most people through Dan Brown’s book, and the subsequent movie, the Da Vinci Code, yet it is not easy to find.
The church sits between the Inner and Middle Temple of the Inns of Court, just off Fleet Street. If you visit the church during the weekend you will need to access it via Tudor Street as the Inns of Court are closed during the weekend and in the evenings. Check their website before you visit for their opening days and times.
800 years of history can be seen and felt here, which began in the 12th century with the Crusaders. The church was built by the Knights Templar, which was an order of crusading monks who protected pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem. The church was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders’ world, the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The order of the Kights Templar was eventually abolished in 1307 by the Pope on the instigation of Philip IV King of France, at which point King Edward II took control of the temple. Eventually the temple was given to the Order of St John, the Knights Hospitaller, who had always worked with the Templars. It was at this point that the lawyers moved into the area. They were looking for a home in London in order to attend to the royal courts at Westminster and so the 2 colleges rented the temple and it became the Inner and Middle Temples. The colleges shared the church and to this day they maintain the church.
The inside of the church is full of history everywhere you look. As part of the entrance fee, which is small, you get to climb up some stairs to reach the upper exhibit. The views down into the main church are worth the little climb!