The altar, inside Temple Church
Stone effigies of the Knights
- Temple Church map
- Temple Church, Temple, The City EC4Y 7BB
- Work 0207 353 3470
Opening times and price
- Opening hours:
- Usually 10 AM to 4 PM, but sometimes 2 PM to 4 PM (Mon-Fri); Closed (Sat-Sun, except for services)
- Ticket cost:
- Adults £5.00; Children free entry (under-17)
- Visiting hours and entry charges are subject to change
- Time required:
- A typical visit to Temple Church lasts 45-60 mins (approx)
Getting to Temple Church
- Find car parks near Temple Church
- Find minicab firms near Temple Church
- 4, 11, 15, 23, 26, 76, 172, 341
- London bus fares
- Blackfriars CRC DSC, Chancery Lane CNT, Temple CRC DSC
- The nearest train station to Temple Church is Temple
- London underground fares
Temple Church is one of the oldest buildings in London, dating back to 1185. It was built by the Knights Templar on the north shore of the Thames, on land granted by the King.
History of the Knights Templar
The Knights Templar were a group of military monks who famously fought in the Crusades, and may have based their design on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Others claim that it is modelled on the Dome of the Rock. The Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, a man called Heraclius, even came to London to consecrate the ground – in a service attended by Henry II.
The Knights were a famously secretive sect and had political power far and above their official status. Their official reason for being was to protect the pilgrims as they travelled to the Holy Land, but they soon sidelined out to grab the land back for the Christians.
Eventually the Templars fell foul of the Pope, and they were forcefully disbanded in 1312. The Temple grounds then passed to the Knights Hospitaller, who leased it to lawyers.
Henry VIII grabbed the land back himself in 1536 during his dissolution of the monasteries, but in 1609 James I offered the freehold to the Inner and Middle Temples (the modern-day Inns of Court).
The Temple Church
The most famous room in Temple Church is the Rotunda, supported by columns of rare Purbeck marble, which house the remains of nine Templar Knights. These stone effigies can be seen lying on the floor still holding their swords and shields.
Initiation ceremonies were performed in the chapel and crypt, and the triangular choir was added in the mid 13th-century.
The turreted roof has been remodelled many times over the centuries, and is not how it looked originally.
- ian meyer – “Spare a few hours and explore the whole temple area around the church. Because the little alleyways and walks between all the lawyers buildings are very atmospheric of what London must have been like in bygone days. A lot of the city of London has been ruined with modern buildings, but this is one little corner of London which shows you what it must have been like a long time ago. As for the church, it is well worth a visit simply to see the effigies of the knights only the floor as you go in. There is simply no other church in London which has anything similar. And you can perfectly imagine the importance of these knights when they were laid to rest in such a prominent place.”
- londonlover – “I love this little part of London with all the courtyards and narrow passageways to explore. I like going through the big black gate to get into the temple area because it feels closed off like you;re not supposed to be there. The first time I went through I was convinced they were going to kick me out. And then you turn a few corners and all of a sudden there is temple church, just like in the da vinci code movie, exactly as it looks on screen. Its unlike any other church that you have seen because of its shape. And when you go in, there are no pews! All there is a load of dead knights lying on the floor in effigy, with their armour and swords on their chests. I know that the da vinci code is a load of nonsense that dan brown made up, but when you see those knights in the middle of the floor it is so bizarre that you cant blame him for thinking there was something sinister going on.”
If you enjoy this then try: Charterhouse (walk it in 16 mins or catch a train from Temple to Charterhouse); Inns of Court (you can walk it in 6 mins); Lincoln’s Inn (you can walk it in 6 mins) and St. John’s Gate (walk it in 14 mins or catch a train from Temple to St. John’s Gate).