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Temple Church

Temple Church Inner Temple, EC4
Tel: (0) 171 248 2705

Hidden from view within the back alleyways of London's Inner Temple, the round church of the Knights Templar is one of only five such circular structures in Britain. In 1185, the order of warrior-monks, known as the Knights Templar, constructed their Round Church on the north bank of the Thames River, and the area roundabout became known as the New Temple. The building was said to have been modelled on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but may also have been influenced by the Dome of the Rock. The architecture is transitional, showing the rounded features of the Norman style in combination with the pointed arches common to Early English. The rectangular portion of the church was added in 1204 along with a small chapel, connected to the south side. The crypt, located underneath the chapel and thought to have been used by the Templars for the performance of their ceremonies, is all that remains of theWilliam Marshall chapel, today. Another subterranean chamber, discovered in 1950, is believed to be the order's treasury room. Some of the more interesting features of the building are the stone figures of nine Crusader Knights, lying in repose upon the floor.

The effigy of William Marshall, the greatest of all medieval knights, counsellor to Richard I, King John and Regent during the minority of Henry III, can be seen here, although somewhat blemished, resulting from damage inflicted upon the church during the bombings of World War II. The structure that we see, today, is built on the original ground plan, but has been changed significantly by the 19th century restorers who "repaired away or renewed every ancient surface."

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