Temple Church. Knights Templar.
Backtrack to Middle Temple Lane and continue over it to pass through the covered passageway into Pump Court, so called because the fire pumps were once located here. As you pass through it, look up at the sun dial high on the left wall, noting its timely reminder “Shadows we are and like shadows depart.’ Continue through the cloisters where on the left you will find:-
Temple Church. The Temple gets its name from the Knights Templar, the monastic military order founded in 1118 with the avowed intent of protecting pilgrims on the road to Jerusalem. This was their London citadel and in 1185 they built their Round Church, which was modelled on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and which still survives today. The Templars were well-connected and soon became influential in the politics of the age. They quickly attracted grants of land and money as the younger sons of noble families flocked to enrol in their ranks, and by the 13th century they were one of the most powerful monastic orders in Christendom. In England the Master of the temple was frequently called to sit in the King’s Parliament and successive monarchs, King John included, frequently stayed at the Templars London base, and the Master of the order was by the King’s side at the signing of Magna Carta. By the early years of the 14th century the Templars were the most powerful monastic Orders in Europe and were answerable only to the Pope himself.
But their success attracted the jealousy and greed of many other Orders and eventually that of the nobility and monarchs of Europe as well. In 1306 Philippe 1V of France had become determined to rid his territories of the Knight Templars. At dawn on Friday October 13th 1307 the King made his move, and with the backing of the Pope, Clement V, all the Knights Templars in France were simultaneously arrested by Philippes agents. Under torture, some Templars "admitted" to all manner of blasphemous and indecent acts. Many of their number were burnt at the stake and eventually in 1312 the order of the Knights Templar was officially dissolved throughout Europe.
There are many conspiracy theories concerning the real reason for dismantling of the order, and some of them go far beyond the simple and obvious motive that Philippe simply wanted to get his hands on their lands. Several modern day fringe researchers have claimed that the order stored secret knowledge, linking them to the lost teachings and relics of Christ, including the Holy Grail.
But in London, their Round Church still stands as a proud testimony to these soldiers of Christ. In 1324 the Templars London estate was given to the Knights Hospitallers of St John, and some of the monastery buildings were rented to law students for accommodation. The connection with the law flourished and it is lawyers who today worship in the church.
Despite its extensities renovation following bomb damage in the Second World War, the Temple Church is still a very special and atmospheric place. The first thing that strikes you when you enter are the effigies of knights that lie peacefully recumbent on the floor within. The hustle and bustle of the world outside seems centuries away as you stand gazing down upon these long ago members of the order, and such is the power of the building that some people claim that this building is one of the most psychically charged structures in the whole of London.