GREATER LONDON
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City of London - 1
 
 
The Temple Church
Underground: Temple: District & Circle Lines
There is now an admission charge of £4.00 but with several concessions; photography allowed at no extra charge.
 
'London's Least Known but Friendliest Church'



William Marshall (1219)
(RCHM no 10)


Gilbert Marshal (1241)
(RCHM no 9)



William Marshall II (1231)
(RCHM no 8)



Unknown
(RCHM no 7)


William de Ros (1316)
(RCHM no 12)

 
The Military Effigies

   The Temple Church lies between Fleet Street and the Thames Embankment in a complex of buildings of the legal profession. Some of the entrances to this complex may be closed at certain times so it is best to check The Temple Church website for further details and for a useful plan of the area. This website also gives details of the opening hours of the church.

   The Temple Church belongs to two of the four Inns of Court, the Inner Temple and Middle Temple; it is thus the lawyers' private chapel. It is extra diocesan, has no parish and is not subject to the authority of the Bishop of London, that is, it is one of the few peculiars that still exist in England today.

   The Temple takes its name from the crusading Order of Knights Templers founded in 1118 to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. Their names comes from their headquarters being near the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. Henry I introduced them to England and they first settled in Holborn, near the top of Chancery Lane. In the 12th century they built their great house of the New Temple on the banks of the Thames. The Round Church was built on the model of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The Order was accused of heresy and other offences and dissolved in 1312 at the instigation of Phillipe Le Bel of France. The Grand Master - Jacques Molay - and others were burned at the stake. In England the Templers' property passed to their rival order, the Knights Hospitallers who, in turn, were suppressed at the Reformation. Thus the Temple eventually passed to the Crown, subject to the tenancies of the lawyers who had settled there as tenants of the Hospitallers and formed themselves into two societies, The Benchers of the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple, who secured the freehold by charter from James I in 1608. One of the conditions of the grant was that they were to maintain the Temple Church and its services for ever. The Minister of the Temple Church is still called the "Master of the Temple"; his title is 'Reverend and Valiant', reflecting the ancient origin of the church.


   In the round part of the church, simply called The Round, are the nine military effigies which probably do not represent actual Knights Templers but rather their supporters, some of whom may have actually joined the order shortly before they died while others became 'associate' members. The southern group (on your left) includes the effigy of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (1219), who was Regent during the minority of Henry III, and his sons William and Gilbert as well as that of William de Ros, which was brought from Yorkshire, although I have never discovered why. In the southern group (on your right) is the effigy of Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex (1144) and a 13th century coped Purbeck marble coffin lid. The other effigies in both of these groups have not been identified.

   These monuments were restored by Edward Richardson,  whose efforts were much criticized, in the early 1840's; his drawings of the effigies - after his restorations - appear on this page. He also rearranged the position of the effigies to that which we see today; before this they were arranged in line across the Round, being centrally divided onto two groups. It is not known how they were positioned in medieval times. They were also drawn by Charles Stothard, who died in 1821, that is before Richardson's restoration, and the former, a remarkably skillful and accurate draughtsman, produced a series of etchings of the effigies which I will include in this survey; this will give an accurate, albeit two dimensional, representation of the effigies before their restoration.


   On the night of 10th May 1941 London was subjected to a Luftwaffe bombing raid and the roof of the church fell onto the effigies; they had been protected in the anticipation of such a raid by being surrounded by railway sleepers but this was a fire bomb so each effigy was subjected to its own inferno causing great damage, molten lead from the roof entering cracks in the stonework. The effigies have been carefully repaired by Harold Haysom.

   Below are photographs of the effigies as well as other monuments in the Temple Church. As can be seen the monuments on the north were more badly damaged than those on the south of the round; those in the nave escaped damage. To see what the monuments used to look like before the bomb damage but, it must be added, after their restoration by Richardson, visit the Cast Courts in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London where Richardson's plaster casts of these monuments before damage, as well as many others, are on displayed. You may also get some idea from Richardson's drawings on either side of this text or from photographs of the effigies taken before the bomb damage in the RCHM volume, The City. I have added the reference numbers the RCHM gave to the monuments for ease of cross reference.

   Richardson in his book of The Monumental Effigies of the Temple Church with an Account of their Restoration in the year1842 (London, Oxford and Cambridge 1841) from which the drawings on either side are taken, also gives an account of the various references and drawings of these effigies, in summary thus:


  
   The first reference to the effigies is by Gerald Leigh in The Accidence of Armouries (1576); he, however, gives no helpful description other than referring to some colour remaining on the monuments. William Camden in Brittania (1695) does not refer to colour but does mention an inscription indentify the effigy of William Marshal Senior. John Stow in his Survey of London (1598) refers to eleven effigies, eight with cross legs and three with straight legs. Today there are nine effigies and three have cross legs so that two appear lost. He also mentions coped stones but does not give their number. John Weever in his History of Leicestershire (1622) refers to several effigies in the Round, without giving their number, but does give some names: Vere, Earl of Oxford; Mandeville, Earl of Essex; Marshal, Earl of Pembroke; Bohun, Earl of Hereford; and, finally, Lord Ross. This passage from Weever is repeated in John Nichols's The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicestershire (1745-1826) but he also mentions William, son of King Henry III.  William Dugdale in his Oringines Juridiciales (1666) refers to the effigies as being in the 'midst of the round walk'...'within a spacious grid of iron'. He mentions five cross leg effigies and three others; he also mentions three other gravestones.

   Now we see - as did Richardson - three straight leg effigies but six with cross legs; There is now only one gravestone. In Richardson's time there was no longer an iron grill enclosing the effigies but the effigies were divided into two groups with a passageway between them. Richardson, who was writing in 1842, says that they remained arranged in that fashion until  their removal 'the restoration of the church began 'two years since'

  But at some point an extra effigy was added, making six cross leg effigies rather than the five which had been described earlier. Charles Stothard in The Monumental Effigies of Great Britain (1817) mentions that a cross legged effigy with the arms of Ross on his shield had been brought from Yorkshire but the record of this had been lost. However in The New View of London (1708) it explains that four effigies 'show names', namely the three Marshals, as mentioned earlier, and Robert Rouse. He then states there is 'another' which was 'brought from York by Mr Serjeant /Bellwood, Recorder of that City, about the year 1682'. It is also stated that this a member of the Rooce family. This seems to indicate that there are two members of this family represented in the church, unless there is some ambiguity in the description.

  Richardson goes on to add that Stothard's representation is the most accurate one before their restoration. He also refers to Richard Gough's muti-volume work, The Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain informs us that drawings were made of the effigies in 1718 and 1736. It is not clear which of these appear in his work.


 


Geoffrey de Mandeville (1144)
(RCHM no 6)


Unknown
(RCHM no 5)


Unknown
(RCHM no 4)


Unknown
(RCHM no 3)


Richard of Hastings (?) (c.1185)
(RCHM no 11)


Plaster Casts of the Military Effigies in the Victoria & Albert Museum

   Below are photographs of plaster casts of the Temple Church military effigies which may be see in the Victoria & Albert Museum. These give an idea of what the effigies looked like before the bomb damage. They are to be found in the Casts Courts, together with many other monuments and effigies, which will be recorded in due course on other pages. These casts were taken by Richardson after his restoration work.

   The ingeneous and amazing way these were copied is given on the page about, and photographs of, a series of these copies in the V & A Museum where the interesting reasons why this was done is also discussed.

   It is very unfortunate (and rather ironic) that the effigies which received the greatest war time damage were those the Richardson did not make casts of.






RCHM-07



RCHM-08


RCHM-09


RCHM-10


RCHM-12

The Effigies Today

   In the 1970's I visited the Temple Church with a film camera and took some photographs of the monuments. There were no railings surrounding them at that time so even with a 28 mm lens I was just able to photograph them from above. I revisited the church around the turn of the century with a digital camera but now railings, albeit very low ones, surrounded the effigies. Although I again used a 28 mm lens but the camera had a cropped sensor, making the focal length effectively around 35mm, so this, together with the railings, made a bird's eye view impossible to take. There were also a number of electric cables and notices which I could not help but include in the photographs as well as difficult lighting.

   I did take some close up photographs of interesting parts of the effigies and some side views and these are shown below, together with the scanned photographs from my earlier trip.


William Marshall (1219)
(RCHM no 10
Gilbert Marshal (1241)
(RCHM no 9)
William Marshall II (1231)
(RCHM no 8)
Unknown
(RCHM no 7)
William de Ros (1316)
(RCHM no 12)


Geoffrey de Mandeville (1144)
(RCHM no 6
)
Unknown
(RCHM no 5)
Unknown
(RCHM no 4)
Unknown
(RCHM no 3)
Richard of Hastings (?) (c.1185)
(RCHM no 11)






 
 
 
 
 
 
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