London Drum

Visit Temple Church – The Knights Templar church from The Da Vinci Code

Where? Temple Church, Inner Temple Lane, The City · Web: templechurch.com Opening times? 10 AM to 4 PM (Mon-Fri) Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £5.00 Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is 45-60 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 4, 11, 15, 23, 26, 76, 172, 341 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Temple Circle District Other nearby stations: Blackfriars and Chancery Lane Train fares

Craig’s review… Temple Church is a mysterious old place. The first time you see the knights’ effigies lying on the floor of the Round Tower you’ll come over all-Indiana Jones and want to smash up the flagstones to find the treasure beneath your feet. I’ve never seen The Da Vinci Code but I can understand why people come here hunting for clues – it’s that kind of place.

Prince Henry’s RoomPhoto: Craig Cross
Prince Henry’s Room (with entrance gate to Temple Church underneath)

You might have a bit of trouble finding the front door because you can’t see it from the street – it’s through that arched wooden gateway underneath Prince Henry’s Room.

This Tudor survivor from the Great Fire of London looks like something straight out of Shakespeare and you’ll probably pause there for a few moments wondering whether you’re really allowed to enter (especially when you see that most of the people heading through are suited-up solicitors from the Royal Courts of Justice over the road). But when you get to the end of that atmospheric little alley you’ll see the Round Tower looming up behind a spindly little tree.

Temple Church side entrancePhoto: Craig Cross
Side entrance to Temple Church

Round Tower built by the Knights Templar

The Round Tower is the original Knights Templar part from 860 years ago, built around sixty years after the Crusaders first captured Jerusalem. The military monks made their money protecting all the pilgrims who were travelling to the Holy Land, but unfortunately once the Crusades came to an end their earnings dried up and the French king took advantage of their weakness to wipe out all his debt.

The Pope was then pressured into dissolving their order and Edward II took control of the church. Later on James I turned the whole area over to a couple of legal colleges… hence why there’s still a load of lawyers walking around here today.

The nave and altar at Temple ChurchPhoto: Craig Cross
Temple Church’s nave and altar

If you arrive when it opens then you might get lucky and have the whole place to yourself because churches are always better when they’re empty. You’re right in the heart of legal London here so there’s hardly any sound outside and the stained glass windows are some of the most brightly coloured scenes I’ve ever seen – you can pick out images of ancient kings and crusading knights and even Christopher Wren’s cathedral blazing in the Blitz.

Sometimes they’ll let you up into the balcony that runs around the inside rim of the Round Tower (they don’t always have the spiral staircase open, so cross your fingers). They’ve got some beautiful old floor tiles up there and a partial view down onto the floor but it’s probably worth doing just for the exercise (it knackered me out and it’s only two stories!). It will give you some practice for when you take on The Monument.

View from the Round Tower balconyPhoto: Craig Cross
View down onto the stone effiges from the Round Tower balcony

Stone effigies of the Knights Templar

But what makes this church so special are the battered bodies of those eight stone knights lying on the floor of the Round Tower. Some of their hands have been knocked off and a few of their feet have disappeared but their swords and shields and chainmail armour are still replete and looking remarkably well preserved given their incredible age.

Geoffrey de Mandeville & William Marshal

Stone effigy of Geoffrey de MandevillePhoto: Craig Cross
Stone effigy of Geoffrey de Mandeville

The first name that you might recognise is Geoffrey de Mandeville – one of the big barons during the reign of King Stephen. When Stephen was defeated in early 1141 Geoffrey switched his allegiance to Stephen’s great rival Matilda, only to switch it back again when he saw which way the wind was blowing.

Unfortunately Stephen didn’t buy his oath of loyalty and promptly confiscated two of his castles. Geoffrey then rebelled and got buried in here.

Stone effigy of William MarshallPhoto: Craig Cross
Stone effigy of William Marshall

The most famous name is William Marshal who acted as Regent for Richard the Lionheart while he was away on Crusade. He also served as one of the negotiators between the big barons and King John before he was forced into signing the Magna Carta.

It would be fantastic if their bones were still buried beneath but, alas, this church’s interior has been remodelled so many times over the centuries that nobody knows for sure where they are. The Victorians shifted all the effigies around for decorative reasons and their actual bodies could be anywhere in the grounds of the Round Tower.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Charterhouse (walk it in 16 mins or catch a tube from Temple to Barbican) and St. John’s Gate (walk it in 14 mins or travel from Temple to Farringdon via tube). If you want to visit some more beautiful old churches then try St. Bartholomew-the-Great and Brompton Oratory

London Squire bookThe owns londondrum.com and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon. This review was updated on

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Your comments and questions

JPO 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. 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.

SL Great description of Temple Church. Many Thanks

nathan We were unable to go inside due to the lockdown which was a shame as we wanted to see the knights, but it is still such a beautiful building from the outside, and we had fun walking the little lanes around the area

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