The restoration of the Temple Church--The
beauty and magnificence of the venerable building--The various styles of
architecture displayed in it--The discoveries made during the recent
restoration--The sacrarium--The marble piscina--The sacramental niches--The
penitential cell--The ancient Chapel of St. Anne--Historical matters connected
with the Temple Church--The holy relics anciently preserved therein--The
interesting monumental remains.
"If a day should come when pew lumber,
preposterous organ cases, and pagan altar screens, are declared to be
unfashionable, no religious building, stript of such nuisances, would come
more fair to the sight, or give more general satisfaction to the antiquary,
than the chaste and beautiful Temple Church. Gentleman's Magazine for
May, 1808, p. 1087.
"AFTER three centuries of demolition, the
solemn structures raised by our Catholic ancestors are being gradually
restored to somewhat of their original appearance, and buildings, which, but a
few years since, were considered as unsightly and barbarous erections of
ignorant times, are now become the theme of general eulogy and models for
It has happily been reserved for the present
generation, after a lapse of two centuries, to see the venerable Temple
chief ecclesiastical edifice of the Knights
Templars in Britain, and the most beautiful and perfect relic of the order now
in existence, restored to the simple majesty it possessed near seven hundred
years ago; to see it once again presenting the appearance which it wore when
the patriarch of Jerusalem exercised his sacred functions within its walls,
and when the mailed knights of the most holy order of the Temple of Solomon,
the sworn champions of the christian faith, unfolded the red-cross banner
amid, "the long-drawn aisles," and offered their swords upon the altar to be
blessed by the ministers of religion.
From the period of the reign of Charles the
First down to our own times, the Temple Church has remained sadly disfigured
by incongruous innovations and modern embellishments, which entirely
changed the antient character and appearance of the building, and clouded and
obscured its elegance and beauty.
Shortly after the Reformation, the Protestant
lawyers, from an over-anxious desire to efface all the emblems of the popish
faith, covered the gorgeously-painted ceiling of this venerable structure with
an uniform coating of simple whitewash; they buried the antique tesselated
pavement under hundreds of cart-loads of earth and rubbish, on the surface of
which, two feet above the level of the antient floor, they placed another
pavement, formed of old grave-stones. They, moreover, disfigured all the
magnificent marble columns with a thick coating of plaster and paint, and
destroyed the beauty of the elaborately-wrought mouldings of the arches, and
the exquisitely-carved marble ornaments with thick incrustations of whitewash,
clothing the whole edifice in one uniform garb of plain white, in accordance
with the puritanical ideas of those times.
Subsequently, in the reign of Charles the
Second, the fine open area of the body of the church was filled with long rows
of stiff and formal pews, which concealed the bases of the columns, while
the plain but handsome stone walls of the
sacred edifice were encumbered, to a height of eight feet from the ground,
with oak wainscoting, which was carried entirely round the church, so as to
shut out from view the elegant marble piscina on the south side of the
building, the interesting arched niches over the high altar, and the sacrarium
on the eastern side of the edifice. The elegant gothic arches connecting the
Round with the oblong portion of the building were filled up with an oak
screen and glass windows and doors, and with an organ-gallery adorned with
Corinthian columns and pilastres and Grecian ornaments, which divided the
building into two parts, altogether altered its original character and
appearance, and sadly marred its architectural beauty. The eastern end of the
church was, at the same time, disfigured with an enormous altarpiece in the
classic style, decorated with Corinthian columns and Grecian cornices and
entablatures, and with enrichments of cherubims and wreaths of fruit, leaves,
and flowers, exquisitely carved and beautiful in themselves, but heavy and
cumbrous, and quite at variance with the gothic character of the edifice. A
huge pulpit and sounding-board, elaborately carved, were also erected in the
middle of the nave, forming a great obstruction to the view of the interior of
the building, and the walls and all the columns were thickly clustered and
disfigured with mural monuments.
All these unsightly and incongruous additions
to the antient fabric have, thanks to the good taste and the public spirit of
the Masters of the Benches of the societies of the Inner and Middle Temple,
been recently removed; the ceiling of the church has been repainted; the
marble columns and the tesselated pavement have been restored, and the
venerable structure has now been brought back to its antient condition.
The historical associations and recollections
connected with the Temple Church throw a powerful charm around the venerable
building. During the holy fervour of the
crusades, the kings of England and the haughty legates of the pope were wont
to mix with the armed bands of the Templars in this their chief ecclesiastical
edifice in Britain. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries some of the most
remarkable characters of the age were buried in the Round, and their mail-clad
marble monumental effigies, reposing side by side on the cold pavement, still
attract the III, wonder and admiration of the inquiring stranger.
The solemn ceremonies attendant in days of yore
upon the admission of a novice to the holy vows of the Temple, conducted with
closed doors during the first watch of the night; the severe religious
exercises performed by the stern military friars; the vigils that were kept up
at night in the church, and the reputed terrors of the penitential cell, all
contributed in times past to throw an air of mystery and romance around the
sacred building, and to create in the minds of the vulgar a feeling of awe and
of superstitious terror, giving rise to those strange and horrible tales of
impiety and crime, of magic and sorcery, which led to the unjust and infamous
execution at the stake of the Grand Master and many hundred Knights of the
Temple, and to the suppression and annihilation of their proud and powerful
The first and most interesting portion of
the Temple Church, denominated by the old writers "THE ROUND," was consecrated
in the year 1185 by Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, on his arrival in
England from Palestine, as before mentioned, to obtain succour from king Henry
the Second against the formidable power of the famous Saladin. *
The old inscription which formerly stood over the small door of the Round
leading into the cloisters, and which was broken and destroyed by the workmen
repairing the church, in the year 1695, was to
the following effect:--
"On the 10th of February, in the year
from the incarnation of our Lord 1185, this church was consecrated in honour
of the blessed Mary by our lord Heraclius, by the grace of God patriarch of
the church of the Resurrection, who hath granted an indulgence of fifty days
to those yearly seeking it." *
The oblong portion of the church, which
extendeth eastwards from the Round, was consecrated on Ascension-day, A.D.
1240, as appears from the following passage in the history of Matthew Paris,
the monk of St. Alban's, who was probably himself present at the ceremony.
"About the same time (A.D. 1240) was
consecrated the noble church of the New Temple at London, an edifice worthy to
be seen, in the presence of the king and much of the nobility of the kingdom,
who, on the same day, that is to say, the day of the Ascension, after the
solemnities of the consecration had been completed, royally feasted at a most
magnificent banquet, prepared at the expense of the Hospitallers."
It was after the promulgation, A.D. 1162 and
1172, of the famous bull omne datum optimum, exempting the Templars
from the ordinary ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and enabling them to admit
priests and chaplains into their order, and appoint them to
their churches without installation and
induction, and free from the interference of the bishops, that the members of
this proud and powerful fraternity began to erect at great cost, in various
parts of Christendom, churches of vast splendour and magnificence, like the
one we now see at London. It is probable that the earlier portion of this
edifice was commenced immediately after the publication of the above bull, so
as to be ready (as churches took a long time in building in those days) for
consecration by the Patriarch on his arrival in England with the Grand Master
of the Temple.
As there is a difference in respect of the time
of the erection, so also is there a variation in the style of the architecture
of the round and oblong portions of the church; the one presenting to us a
most beautiful and interesting specimen of that mixed style of ecclesiastical
architecture termed the semi-Norman, and by some writers the intermediate,
when the rounded arch and the short and massive column became mingled with,
and were gradually giving way to, the early Gothic; and the other affording to
us a pure and most elegant example of the latter style of architecture, with
its pointed arches and light slender columns. These two portions of the Temple
Church, indeed, when compared together, present features of peculiar interest
to the architect and the antiquary. The oblong portion of the venerable fabric
affords, perhaps, the first specimen of the complete conquest of the pointed
style over the massive circular or Norman architecture which preceded its
erection, whilst the Round displays the different changes which the latter
style underwent previous to its final subversion.
The Temple Church is entered by a beautiful
semicircular arched doorway, an exquisite specimen of the Norman style of
architecture, still unfortunately surrounded and smothered by the smoke-dried
buildings of studious lawyers. It is deeply
recessed and ornamented on either side with
columns bearing foliated capitals, from whence spring a series of arched
mouldings, richly carved and decorated. Between these columns project angular
piers enriched with lozenges, roses, foliage, and ornaments of varied pattern
and curious device. The upper part of these piers between the capitals of the
columns is hollowed out, and carved half-length human figures, representing a
king and queen, monks and saints, have been inserted. Some of these figures
hold scrolls of paper in their hands, and others rest in the attitude of
prayer. Over them, between the ribs of the arch, are four rows of enriched
foliage springing from the mouths of human heads.
Having passed this elegant and
elaborately-wrought doorway, we enter that portion of the church called by the
which consists of an inner circular area formed
by a round tower resting on six clustered columns, and of a circular external
aisle or cloister, connected with the round tower by a sloping roof on the
outside, and internally by a groined vaulted ceiling. The beauty and elegance
of the building from this point, with its circular colonnades, storied
windows, and long perspective of architectural magnificence, cannot be
described--it must be seen.
From the centre of the Round, the eye is
carried upward to the vaulted ceiling of the inner circular tower with its
groined ribs and carved bosses. This tower rests on six clustered marble
columns, from whence spring six pointed arches enriched with numerous
mouldings. The clustered columns are composed of four marble shafts,
surmounted by foliated capitals, which are
each of a different pattern, but correspond in
the general outline, and display great character and beauty. These shafts are
connected together by bands at their centres; and the bases and capitals run
into each other, so as to form the whole into one column. Immediately above
the arches resting on these columns, is a small band or cornice, which extends
around the interior of the tower, and supports a most elegant arcade of
interlaced arches. This arcade is formed of numerous small Purbeck marble
columns, enriched with ornamented bases and capitals, from whence spring a
series of arches which intersect one another, and produce a most pleasing and
striking combination of the round and pointed arch. Above this elegant arcade
is another cornice surmounted by six circular-headed windows pierced at equal
intervals through the thick walls of the tower. These windows are ornamented
at the angles with small columns, and in the time of the Knights Templars they
were filled with stained glass. Between each window is a long slender circular
shaft of Purbeck marble, which springs from the clustered columns, and
terminates in a bold foliated capital, whereon rest the groined ribs of the
ceiling of the tower.
From the tower, with its marble columns,
interlaced arches, and elegant decorations, the attention will speedily be
drawn to the innumerable small columns, pointed arches, and grotesque human
countenances which extend around the lower portion of the external aisle or
cloister encircling the Round. The more these human countenances are
scrutinised, the more astonishing and extraordinary do they appear. They seem
for the most part distorted and agonised with pain, and have been supposed,
not without reason, to represent the writhings and grimaces of the damned.
Unclean beasts may be observed gnawing the ears and tearing with their claws
the bald heads of some of them, whose firmly-compressed teeth and quivering
lips plainly denote intense
bodily anguish. These sculptured visages
display an astonishing variety of character, and will be regarded with
increased interest when it is remembered, that an arcade and cornice decorated
in this singular manner have been observed among the ruins of the Temple
churches at Acre, and in the Pilgrim's Castle. This circular aisle or cloister
is lighted by a series of semicircular-headed windows, which are ornamented at
the angles with small columns.
Over the western doorway leading into the
Round, is a beautiful Norman wheel-window, which was uncovered and brought to
light by the workmen during the recent reparation of this interesting
building. It is considered a masterpiece of masonry.
The entrance from the Round to the oblong
portion of the Temple Church is formed by three lofty pointed arches, which
open upon the nave and the two aisles. The mouldings of these arches display
great beauty and elegance, and the central arch, which forms the grand
entrance to the nave, is supported upon magnificent Purbeck marble columns.
Having passed through one of these elegant and
richly-embellished archways, we enter a large, lofty, and light structure,
consisting of a nave and two aisles of equal height, formed by eight clustered
marble columns, which support a groined vaulted ceiling richly and elaborately
painted. This chaste and graceful edifice presents to us one of the most pure
and beautiful examples in existence of the early pointed style, which
immediately succeeded the mixed order of architecture visible in the Round.
The numerous elegantly-shaped windows which extend around this portion of the
building, the exquisite proportions of the slim marble columns, the beauty and
richness of the architectural decorations, and the extreme lightness and
airiness of the whole structure, give us the idea of a fairy palace.
The marble columns supporting the pointed
arches of the
roof, four in number on each side, do not
consist of independent shafts banded together, as in the Round, but form solid
pillars which possess vast elegance and beauty. Attached to the walls of the
church, in a line with these pillars, are a series of small clustered columns,
composed of three slender shafts, the central one being of Purbeck marble, and
the others of Caen stone; they are bound together by a band at their centres
and their bases, which are of Purbeck marble, rest on a stone seat or plinth,
which extends the whole length of the body of the church. These clustered
columns, which are placed parallel to the large central pillars, are
surmounted by foliated capitals, from whence spring the groined ribs which
traverse the vaulted ceiling of the roof. The side walls are thus divided into
five compartments on either side, which are each filled up with a triple
lancet-headed window, of a graceful form, and richly ornamented. It is
composed of three long narrow openings surmounted by pointed arches, the
central arch rising above the lateral ones. The mouldings of the arches rest
upon four slender marble columns which run up in front of the stone mullions
of the windows, and impart to them great elegance and beauty. The great number
of these windows, and the small intervening spaces of blank wall between them,
give a vast lightness and airiness to the whole structure.
Immediately beneath them is a small cornice or
stringing course of Purbeck marble, which runs entirely round the body of the
church, and supports the small marble columns which adorn the windows.
The roof is composed of a series of pointed
arches supported by groined ribs, which, diverging from the capitals of the
columns, cross one another at the centre of the arch, and are ornamented at
the point of intersection with richly-carved bosses. This roof is composed
principally of chalk, and previous to the late restoration, had a plain and
somewhat naked appearance, being covered
with an uniform coat of humble whitewash. On
the recent removal of this whitewash, extensive remains of an ancient painted
ceiling were brought to light, and it was consequently determined to repaint
the entire roof of the body of the church according to a design furnished by
At the eastern end of the church are three
elegant windows opening upon the three aisles; they are similar in form to the
side windows, but the central one is considerably larger than any of the
others, and has in the spandrels formed by the line of groining two small
quatrefoil panels. The label mouldings on either side of this central window
terminate in two crowned heads, which are supposed to represent king Henry the
Third and his queen. These windows are to be filled with stained glass as in
the olden time, and will, when finished, present a most gorgeous and
magnificent appearance. Immediately beneath them, above the high altar, are
three niches, in which were deposited in days of yore the sacred vessels used
during the celebration of the mass. The central recess, surmounted by a
rounded arch, contained the golden chalice and patin covered with the veil and
bursa; and the niches on either side received the silver cruets, the ampullæ,
the subdeacon's veil, and all the paraphernalia used during the sacrament. In
the stonework around them may be observed the marks of the locks and
fastenings of doors.
These niches were uncovered and brought to
light on the removal of the large heavy oak screen and altar-piece, which
disfigured the eastern end of the church.
On the southern side of the building, near the
high altar, is an elegant marble piscina or lavacrum, which was
in like manner discovered on pulling down the modern oak wainscoting. This
interesting remnant of antiquity has been beautifully restored,
and well merits attention. It was
constructed for the use of the priest who officiated at the adjoining altar,
and was intended to receive the water in which the chalice had been rinsed,
and in which the priest washed his hands before the consecration of the bread
and wine. It consists of two perforated hollows or small basins, inclosed in
an elegant marble niche, adorned with two graceful arches, which rest on small
marble columns. The holes at the bottom of the basins communicate with two
conduits or channels for draining off the water, which antiently made its exit
through the thick walls of the church. In the olden time, before the
consecration of the host, the priest walked to the piscina, accompanied by the
clerk, who poured water over his hands, that they might be purified from all
stain before he ventured to touch the body of our Lord. One of these channels
was intended to receive the water in which the priest washed his hands, and
the other that in which he had rinsed the chalice. The piscina, consequently,
served the purposes of a sink.
Adjoining the piscina, towards the
eastern end of the church, is a small elegant niche, in which the ewer, basin,
and towels were placed; and immediately opposite, in the north wall of the
edifice, is another niche, which appears to have been a sacrarium or
tabernacle for holding the eucharist preserved for the use of the sick
In the centre of the northern aisle of the
church, a large recess has been erected for the reception of the organ, as no
convenient place could be found for it in the old structure. Below this
recess, by the side of the archway communicating with the Round,
is a small Norman doorway, opening upon a dark
circular staircase which leads to the summit of the round tower, and also to
This dreary place of solitary confinement is
formed within the thick wall of the church, and is only four feet six inches
long, and two feet six inches wide, so that it would be impossible for a grown
person to lie down with any degree of comfort within it. Two small apertures,
or loopholes, four feet high and nine inches wide, have been pierced through
the walls to admit light and air. One of these apertures looks eastward into
the body of the church towards the spot where stood the high altar, in order
that the prisoner might see and hear the performance of divine service, and
the other looks southward into the Round, facing the west entrance of the
church. The hinges and catch of a door, firmly attached to the doorway of this
dreary prison, still remain, and at the bottom of the staircase is a atone
recess or cupboard, where bread and water were placed for the prisoner.
In this miserable cell were confined the
refractory and disobedient brethren of the Temple, and those who were enjoined
severe penance with solitary confinement. Its dark secrets have long since
been buried in the silence of the tomb, but one sad tale of misery and horror,
probably connected with it, has been brought to light.
Several of the brethren of the Temple at
London, who were examined before the papal inquisitors, tell us of the
miserable death of Brother Walter le Bacheler, Knight, Grand Preceptor of
Ireland, who, for disobedience to his superior the Master of the Temple, was
fettered and cast into prison, and there expired from the rigour and severity
of his confinement. His dead body was taken out of the solitary cell in the
Temple at morning's
dawn, and was buried by Brother John de
Stoke and Brother Radulph de Barton, in the midst of the court, between the
church and the hall.
The discipline of the Temple was strict
and austere to an extreme. An eye-witness tells us that disobedient brethren
were confined in chains and dungeons for a longer or a shorter period, or
perpetually, according as it might seem expedient, in order that their souls
might be saved at the last from the eternal prison of hell. †
In addition to imprisonment, the Templars were scourged on their bare backs,
by the hand of the Master himself, in the Temple Hall, and were frequently
whipped on Sundays in the church, in the presence of the whole congregation.
Brother Adam de Valaincourt, a knight of
a noble family, quitted the order of the Temple, but afterwards returned,
smitten with remorse for his disobedience, and sought to be admitted to the
society of his quondam brethren. He was compelled by the Master to eat for a
year on the ground with the dogs; to fast four days in the week on bread and
water, and every Sunday to present himself naked in the church before the high
altar, and receive the discipline at the hands of the officiating priest, in
the presence of the whole congregation.
On the opposite side of the church,
corresponding with the doorway and staircase leading to the penitential cell,
there was formerly another doorway and staircase communicating with a very
curious antient structure, called the chapel of St. Anne, which stood on the
south side of the Round, but was removed during the repairs in 1827. It was
two stories in height. The lower story communicated with the Round through a
doorway formed under one of the arches of the arcade, and the upper
story communicated with the body of the
church by the before-mentioned doorway and staircase, which have been recently
stopped up. The roofs of these apartments were vaulted, and traversed by
cross-ribs of stone, ornamented with bosses at the point of intersection. *
This chapel antiently opened upon the cloisters, and formed a private medium
of communication between the convent of the Temple and the church. It was here
that the papal legate and the English bishops frequently had conferences
respecting the affairs of the English clergy, and in this chapel Almaric de
Montforte, the pope's chaplain, who had been imprisoned by king Edward the
First, was set at liberty at the instance of the Roman pontiff, in the
presence of the archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of London, Lincoln,
Bath, Worcester, Norwich, Oxford, and several other prelates, and of many
distinguished laymen; the said Almeric having previously taken an oath that he
would forthwith leave the kingdom, never more to return without express
permission. In times past, this chapel of St. Anne,
situate on the south of "the round about walles," was widely celebrated for
its productive powers. It was resorted to by barren women, and was of great
repute for making them "joyful mothers of children!"
There were formerly numerous priests attached
to the Temple church, the chief of whom was styled custos or guardian
of the sacred edifice. King Henry the Third, for the salvation of his own
soul, and the souls of his ancestors and heirs, gave to the Templars eight
pounds per annum, to be paid out of the exchequer,
for the maintenance of three chaplains in
the Temple to say mass daily for ever; one was to pray in the church for the
king himself, another for all christian people, and the third for the faithful
departed. Idonea de Veteri Ponte also gave thirteen
bovates of her land, at Ostrefeld, for the support of a chaplain in the house
of the Temple at London, to pray for her own soul and that of her deceased
husband, Robert de Veteri Ponte.
The custos or guardian of the Temple
church was appointed by the Master and Chapter of the Temple, and entered upon
his spiritual duties, as did all the priests and chaplains of the order,
without any admission, institution, or induction. He was exempt from the
ordinary ecclesiastical authority, and was to pay perfect obedience in all
matters, and upon all occasions, to the Master of the Temple, as his lord and
bishop. The priests of the order took precisely the same vows as the rest of
the brethren, and enjoyed no privileges above their fellows. They remained,
indeed, in complete subjection to the knights, for they were not allowed to
take part in the consultations of the chapter, unless they had been enjoined
so to do, nor could they occupy themselves with the cure of souls unless
required. The Templars were not permitted to confess to priests who were
strangers to the order, without leave so to do.
"Et les freres chapeleins du Temple dovinent
oyr la confession des freres, ne nul ne se deit confesser a autre chapelein
saunz counge, car it ount greigneur poer du Pape, de els assoudre que un
The particular chapters of the Master of the
Temple, in which transgressions were acknowledged, penances were enjoined, and
quarrels were made up, were frequently held on a Sunday morning
in the above chapel of St. Anne, on the south
side of the Temple church, when the following curious form of absolution was
pronounced by the Master of the Temple in the Norman French of that day.
"La manere de tenir chapitre e d’assoudre."
"Apres chapitre dira le mestre, ou cely
qe tendra le chapitre. 'Beaus seigneurs freres, le pardon de nostre chapitre
est tiels, qe cil qui ostast les almones de la meson a tout e male resoun, ou
tenist aucune chose en noun de propre, ne prendreit u tens ou pardoun de
nostre chapitre. Mes toutes les choses qe vous lessez a dire pour hounte de la
char, ou pour poour de la justice de la mesoun qe lein ne la prenge requer
Dieu, e de par la poeste, que nostre sire otria a sein pere, la quele nostre
pere le pape lieu tenaunt a terre a otrye a la maison, e a noz sovereyns, e
nous de par Dieu, e de par nostre mestre, e de tout nostre chapitre tiel
pardoun come ieo vous puis fere, ieo la vous faz, de bon quer, e de bone
volonte. E prioms nostre sire, qe issi veraiement come il pardona a la
glorieuse Magdaléyne, quant ele plura ses pechez. E al larron en la croiz mis
pardona il ses pechez, e a vous face les vos a pardone a moy les miens. Et pry
vous que se ieo ouges meffis oudis a mil de vous que vous depleise que vous le
me pardonez.'" *
At the close of the chapter, the Master or the
President of the chapter shall say, "Good and noble brethren, the pardon of
our chapter is such, that he who unjustly maketh away with the alms of the
house, or holdeth anything as his own property, hath no part in the pardon of
our chapter, or in the good works of our house. But those things which through
shame-facedness, or through fear of the justice of the order, you have
neglected to confess before God, I, by the power which our Lord obtained from
his Father, and which our father the pope, his vicar, has
granted to the house, and to our superiors, and
to us, by the authority of God and our Master, and all our chapter, grant unto
you, with hearty good will, such pardon as I am able to give. And we beseech
our Lord, that as he forgave the glorious Mary Magdalene when she bewailed her
sins, and pardoned the robber on the cross, that he will in like manner
mercifully pardon both you and me. And if I have wronged any of you, I beseech
you to grant me forgiveness."
The Temple Church in times past contained
many holy and valuable relics, which had been sent over by the Templars from
Palestine. Numerous indulgences were granted by the bishops of London to all
devout Christians who went with a lively faith to adore these relics. The
bishop of Ely also granted indulgences to all the faithful of his diocese, and
to all pious Christians who attended divine worship in the Temple Church, to
the honour and praise of God, and his glorious mother the Virgin Mary, the
resplendent Queen of Heaven, and also to all such as should contribute, out of
their goods and possessions, to the maintenance and support of the lights
which were kept eternally upon the altars.
The circular form of the oldest portion of the
Temple Church imparts an additional interest to the venerable fabric, as there
are only three other ancient churches in England of this shape. It has been
stated that all the churches of the Templars were built in the circular form,
after the model of the church of the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem; but this was
not the case. The numerous remains of these churches, to be met with in
various parts of Christendom, prove them to have been built of all shapes,
forms, and sizes.
We must now say a word concerning the ancient
monuments in the Temple Church.
In a recess in the south wall, close to the
elegant marble piscina, reposes the recumbent figure of a bishop clad in
pontifical robes, having a mitre on his head and a crosier in his hand. It
rests upon an altar-tomb, and has been beautifully carved out of a single
block of Purbeck marble. On the 7th of September, 1810, this tomb was opened,
and beneath the figure was found a stone coffin, about three feet in height
and ten feet in length, having a circular cavity to receive the head of the
corpse. Within the coffin was found a human skeleton in a state of perfect
preservation. It was wrapped in sheet-lead, part of which had perished. On the
left side of the skeleton were the remains of a crosier, and among the bones
and around the skull were found fragments of sackcloth and of garments wrought
with gold tissue. It was evident that the tomb had been previously violated,
as the sheet-lead had been divided longitudinally with some coarse cutting
instrument, and the bones within it had been displaced from their proper
position. The most remarkable discovery made on the opening of this tomb was
that of the skeleton of an infant a very few months old, which was found lying
at the feet of the bishop.
Nichols, the antiquary, tells us that
Brown Willis ascribed the above monument to Silvester de Everdon, bishop of
Carlisle, who was killed in the year 1255 by a fall from a mettlesome horse,
and was buried in the Temple Church.
All the monumental remains of the ancient
Knights Templars, formerly existing in the Temple Church, have unfortunately
long since been utterly destroyed. Burton, the antiquary, who was admitted a
member of the Inner Temple in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, on the 20th of
May, 1593, tells us that in the body of the church there was "a large blue
marble inlaid with brasse,"
with this circumscription--"Hic
requiescit Constantius de Houerio, quondam visitator generalis ordinis militiæ
Templi in Angliâ, Franciâ, et Italia." *
'Here lies Constance de Hover, formerly visitor-general of the order of the
Temple, in England, France, and Italy." Not a vestige of this interesting
monument now remains. During the recent excavation in the churchyard for the
foundations of the new organ gallery, two very large stone coffins were found
at a great depth below the present surface, which doubtless enclosed the
mortal remains of distinguished Templars. The churchyard appears to abound in
ancient stone coffins.
In the Round of the Temple Church, the oldest
part of the present fabric, are the famous monuments of secular warriors, with
their legs crossed, in token that they had assumed the cross, and taken the
vow to march to the defence of the christian faith in Palestine. These
cross-legged effigies have consequently been termed "the monuments of the
crusaders," and are so singular and interesting, that a separate chapter must
be devoted to the consideration of them.
289 Dublin Review for May, 1841, p. 301.
292 See ante, page 80. On the 10th of March,
before his departure from this country, Heraclius consecrated the church of
the Hospitallers at Clerkenwell, and the altars of St. John and St. Mary. Ex
registr. S. John Jerus. in Bib. Cotton, fol. 1.
293 A fac-simile of this inscription was
faithfully delineated by Mr. Geo. Holmes, the antiquary, and was published by
Strype, A.D. 1670. The earliest copy I have been able to find of it is in a
manuscript history of the Temple, in the Inner Temple library, supposed to
have been written at the commencement of the reign of Charles the First by
John Wilde, Esq., a bencher of the society, and Lent reader in the year 1630.
293 Tempore quoque sub eodem (A.D. 1240)
dedicate est nobilis ecclesia, structuræ aspectabilis Novi Templi
Londinensis, præsente Rege et multis regni Magnatibus; qui eodem die,
scilicet die Ascensionis, completis dedicationis solemniis, convivium in mensâ
nimis laute celebrarunt, sumptibus Hospitaliorum.--Matt. Par. ad ann.
1240, p. 526, ed. 1640.
300 A large piscina, similar to the one in the
Temple Church, may be seen in Cowling church, Kent. Archæologia, vol.
xi. pl. xiv. p. 320.
300 Ib. p. 347 to 359.
302 Acta contra Templarios. Concil.
Mag. Brit. tom. ii. p. 336, 350, 351.
302 Jac. de Vitr. De Religione
fratrum militiæ Templi, cap. 65.
302 Processus contra Templarios, apud
Dupuy, p. 65; ed. 1700.
303 See the plan of this chapel and of the
Temple Church, in the vetusta monuments of the Society of Antiquaries.
303 Acta fuerunt hæc in capellâ juxta ecclesiam,
apud Novum Templum London, ex parte Australi ipsius ecclesiæ sitâ, coram
reverendis patribus domino archiepiscopo et episcopis, &c. &. Acta Rymeri,
tom. ii. p. 193, ad ann. 1282.
303 Anecdotes and Traditions published by the
Camden Society. No. clxxxi. p. 110.
304 De tribus Capellanis inveniendis, apud
Novum Templum, Londoniarum, pro animâ Regis Henrici Tertii. Ex regist Hosp. S.
Johannis Jerus. in Anglia. Bib. Cotton, f. 25. a.
304 Ibid., 30. b.
305 Acta contra Templarios. Concil. Mag.
Brit., tom. ii. p. 383.
306 E registro mun. eviden. Prior. Hosp. Sanc.
Joh. fol. 23, b.; fo. 24, a.
307 Nicholls’ Hist. Leicestershire, vol.
iii. p. 960, note. Malcolm, Londinium Redivivum, vol. ii. p. 294.
308 Burton's Leicestershire, p. 235,