Address: Temple, London EC4Y 7BB


Time Information:

Phone: 0207 353 3470

Entry Price: £5 for adult

600m from City Thameslink

500m from Temple

Temple Church is located to the south of Fleet Street and is the church of the Inner and Middle Temples, two of the four legal Inns of Court. It was ceded by a Royal Charter from James I on condition that they maintain the building.

The origins of the church go back a lot further. In medieval times there was a religious body called the Knights Templar. They were soldier monks who guarded pilgrims on their way to and from the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in the 12th century. The Templar had their London headquarters in High Holborn, but moved to the current site which was consecrated in 1185 by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem. The round church was built to reflect the building in Jerusalem with a chancel added in 1240.

The Order had become extremely powerful and wealthy and such was their esteem at the time that Henry III wished to be buried in their church. To accommodate this, the choir was pulled down and a larger one built, only for Henry to be buried in Westminster Abbey when he died. The most well known knight to be buried in the church was William the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. He was a key negotiator for King John in his struggle with the barons and instrumental in the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.

In 1307 the Order was abolished by the Pope and Edward II took possession of their church. He gave it to the Order of Knights Hospitaller who rented it to two colleges of lawyers. In 1540, Henry VIII abolished the Hospitallers and seized their church. The two Inns of Court remained and later they asked King James I for a Royal Charter in perpetuity. It was granted in 1608.

The church was renovated in 1841 and again after bombing in 1941. During the latter, the original Sir Christopher Wren altar screen was found in County Durham and installed and in 1954 the magnificent stained glass east window was put in. The church is open to the public.

Temple Church is another of those landmarks in central London that is sought out by historians.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.