A hidden gem tucked away inside one of the Inns of Court, Temple Church is a beautiful 12th-century church. Members of the public can not only visit the church but can often attend concerts that take place inside. Easily accessible from Fleet Street on Mondays-Fridays, it’s a bit harder to find it on the weekends as the main entrance into Temple is closed – but it’s worth the effort to eventually find your way! Temple Church came to the publics’ attention a number of years ago at the publishing (and subsequent film) of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. In fact, there is a scene set inside the Temple Church in the story that was also filmed for the screen. It is here that the main characters Langston and Sophie, along with Leah Teabing come when trying to solve the riddle: In London lies a knight a Pope interred. His labour’s fruit a Holy wrath incurred. You seek the orb that out be on his tomb. It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.
The characters believe the stone effigies of the Knights which still lay in the church are actual tombs – but they are proved (and accurately so) incorrect. The trio then realise the riddle is leading them to Westminster Abbey – not Temple Church.
Check out our self-guided tour for more things to see in Old London.
Where is Temple Church London?
Temple Church London is located in the City of London. It's central location means that it is located close to several popular London attractions, such as St. Paul's Cathedral. The closest London Underground Station is Temple (Circle and District lines). We recommend using this link for directions to Temple Church from anywhere in the London area.
- Address: Temple Church, off of Fleet Street, London EC4Y 7HL
- Nearest Underground Station: Temple
- Cost: There is no cost to enter but a donation of £3 - £5 is recommended.
- Hours: Vary throughout the year in accordance with Church services and maintenance, so ALWAYS check the website before your visit!
- Website: www.templechurch.com
Temple Church was originally built in the 1160’s, when the Order of the Knights Templar purchased the land here so that they could create a monastic complex to act as their headquarters in England. The structure of the church is divided into two: the original nave, called the Round Church, and an adjoining rectangular building called the Chancel. The design of the church was based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and contains the first-ever free-standing Purbeck Marble columns in existence.
The church was consecrated on the 10th of February 1185 in a ceremony that had such prestigious guests such as King Henry II and Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
In the 23th century the church underwent extensive renovation under the command of King Henry III – and one of his sons is actually still interred into the church. Henry’s grandson, Kind Edward II seized control of the church and sold it on. The church eventually fell into the hands of a college of lawyers – founding the modern day Inns of Court that are based here: Inner Temple and Middle Temple.
Renovated in the 20th century after damage caused by the Blitz, Temple Church today now sports stone and architectural features spanning over the centuries of its’ existence. In fact, effigies of the Knights Templar dating back to the 13th century are still contained within the nave and can be seen by visitors. The last time the church was renovated and redecorated was in 1958.
In Shakespeare’s Play Henry VI, Part I the beginning of the Wars of the Roses (a dynastic civil feud that ran for centuries between the Lancastrians and the Yorkist families in England) takes place here outside Temple Church. Shakespeare wrote that a member of the House of Lancaster and a member of the House of York each plucked actual roses (the symbols of their Houses) in a symbolic gesture of the beginning of this decade-long feud. To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s play, red and white roses were planted in the gardens here at Temple, commemorating this fictional event.
Originally Temple Church was where the initiation ceremonies of Knights Templar members were held. However, today Temple Church is an active house of worship and holds regular services on Sundays.
Regular organ music and choir recitals are held here which the public can attend. In fact, the Temple Choir is a well-known and respected institution. The all-male choir, made up of 18 boys, not only performs but also broadcasts and records their performances.