I have been living in London for a number of years, but a busy life didn’t quite give me a chance to thoroughly visit it – in fact, very little did I see.
One day, on my way from the library to the college, I decided to take a side street instead, which lead to an interesting and unexpected sightseeing. I discovered that Temple has a name for a reason (of course!): The Temple located at its heart in a relatively hidden and unmarked backyard.
This little story started with the mention of a library, the Maughan Library. It’s a fine 19th century listed building located in Chancery Lane, whose full history can be found on the Victorian Web page here. Inside, among other things, there are a beautiful octagonal reading room and a (repurposed) medieval chapel; from the facade windows there is a great view of the neighbouring buildings and rooftops. In its courtyard it also features a small, peaceful garden with a bronze statue of Confucius.
Maughan Library in Chancery Lane
As I was saying before digressing in the library sub-thread, wandering through a certain alley, I found myself in a quiet area, right in the heart of the city – hard to believe, with little squares, historic buildings and evocative atmospheres. I didn’t really know what the name of this area was, until I later reached the nearby Temple tube station and realised that its name came from the place I just visited. The Temple neighbourhood is formed by small side streets that lead to hidden squares, grand buildings in different styles and it borders the River Thames.
Views of the Temple area
Lastly, I would like to introduce the Temple Church, which was built in the 12th century and was since its origins related to the order of the Knights Templar; its circular base makes reference to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The church hosts several tombs and marble effigies of medieval knights. In Victorian times its interiors were restyled to revive its original gothic atmosphere, but sadly WWII bombings damaged the church and the inner works, which were lost.
(A more detailed account of its history can be found on this Temple Church webpage.)
the interior of the Round Church section on the Temple Church in London (plate 84 of Microcosm of London, 1810, available here)
the knightly effigy tombs (photo by Alan Ford, available here)
the two knights on one horse iconography recall the Templars’ lack of horse and poor beginnings, but this may well have been a tale or a symbol of Charity (source: Temple Church’s webpage)
This little tour of the Temple area in London has come to an end, I hope that you may have enjoyed it. All pictures were originally taken for my own memory and were not intended for public use – this justifies (?) their not highest quality.
There may be follow up threads for my ‘A history of London in pictures’, depending on my writing “inspiration” and energies. Please feel free to leave your thoughts.
Enjoy your travels, whichever part of the planet your foot will tread.