The Fall of the Templars


Little more than fifty years after the consecration of the chancel, the Templars fell on evil times.  The Holy Land was recaptured by the Saracens and so their work came to an end.  The wealth they had accumulated made them the target of envious enemies, and in 1307, at the instigation of Philip IV King of France, the Order was abolished by the Pope.  The papal decree was obeyed in England and King Edward II took control of the London Temple.

Eventually he gave it to the Order of St John – the Knights Hospitaller – who had always worked with  the Templars.  At the time, the lawyers were looking for a home in London in order to attend the royal courts in Westminster.  So the Temple was rented to two colleges of lawyers, who came to be identified as the Inner and Middle Temples.  The two colleges shared the use of the church. In this way, the Temple Church became the “college chapel” of those two societies and continues to be maintained by them to the present day.

It was King Henry VIII who brought about the next change in the church. In 1540 he abolished the Hospitallers and confiscated their property.   The Temple again belonged to the Crown.  It was then for Henry to provide a priest for the church, to whom he gave the title ‘Master of the Temple’.