It has been a great delight for us to welcome everyone back into the Church with our choral forces restored to full strength and to resume public worship after months of restrictions. It is also a pleasure to be able to welcome wedding couples many of whom have had to postpone their plans (in some cases on more than one occasion) as well as baptisms.
Our first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of everyone who comes to the Church so we shall continue to follow the ongoing advice of the Church of England and the direction of the Inner and Middle Temple – and monitor the position regularly.
We continue to hold in our prayers all those who have lost their lives (and livelihoods) as a result of this terrible virus. We pray for those who mourn for the loss of loved ones and those living in anxiety, fear or isolation. We give heartfelt thanks for all who are still working tirelessly in hospitals and care homes and for those who are administering the vaccines to make our lives safe.
All of our services of worship are continuing online, and now with a difference. Our enhanced audio-visual systems are now live and we hope you will notice the difference in quality and enjoy the experience. We are enormously grateful to the Temple Music Foundation and the Temple Music Trust for their generosity in making this possible. Read more below.
Our special services and events during Michaelmas Term Term are summarised on the right until the end of December. For further information, please visit our new website: www.templechurch.com which is regularly updated. The Church is once again open to visitors. We were delighted to welcome nearly a thousand visitors on 5 September as part of this year’s Open House Festival.
This Michaelmas Term Newsletter comes with very best wishes from all of us:
Robin and Mark, Cath, Charlie, Matt, Roger, Susan and Tom
Catherine: T: 020 7 353 8559 E: Catherine@templechurch.com
Director of Music, Roger Sayer writes
We’re back! The choristers have been back since the end of May singing live for the first time since Christmas Day. You can imagine the delight when the first sounds were heard after such a long absence.
For some of the younger boys it would have been a strange, and possibly daunting, experience not being familiar with the form of service or the new and socially-distanced positions.
My wonderful colleagues, Tom, Charlie, Susan, Mike and Ben have helped bring us to this point - a new beginning. Some older choristers have left us: Lucas (Head Chorister) and Sam (Deputy Head Chorister) have served the Church faithfully, for almost 7 years. Following the summer break re-building is underway.
Despite the lockdowns we kept our Wednesday lunchtime organ recitals going with most being played live. We are glad once again to be welcoming back visiting recitalists. The recitals are being broadcast from 1.15pm - 1.45pm. For details of the current programme and to access the Church’s YouTube link visit the Organ Recitals page.
One of the high points last term for the choir was the BBC concert on 11 June. This began life in February 2020 in discussion with BBC Radio 3 to showcase the Temple Church Choristers. At that time the choir was on the crest of a wave. The concert was cancelled and moved to December 2020, which was cancelled again. So this concert was a very special one for us and represented very hard work throughout the three lockdowns. It included a newly commissioned cantata written by Ken Hesketh (father of one of our probationers) with text collected from the choristers and parents, and bound into a libretto by Tom Guthrie, one of our singers. The work is for Boys’ Voices, Harp and Organ and is entitled Carmina Tempore Viri (Songs in Time of Virus).
This new piece, which received its world premiere on 11 June, was a wonderful collaboration between all of us and is the greatest challenge the Temple Choristers have ever undertaken. I see this concert as a celebration of what we managed to achieve against all the odds. It will move us forward to ensure this great tradition is vibrant and healthy for generations to come.
… and Music Administrator, Susan Keeling writes …
Female choral scholarships
We are delighted to have launched our female choral scholarship programme, to begin in the academic year 2021/22. Our advertisement reached the attention of many singing teachers, choral directors, junior conservatoires, school music departments, other choirs, parents and young people. We auditioned nine young women back in June. In their applications, each mentioned how much they had missed singing during the various lockdowns and periods of restrictions, and how, unfortunately, they have missed out on singing courses and concert opportunities. We hope that all of them will enjoy the experience of coming to sing for us and will benefit from the feedback that our distinguished panel will be able to give. For those who are not successful for a scholarship, we aim to direct them towards membership of our Youth Choir.
Having had to cancel a number of Youth Choir activities over the past year or so, owing to covid restrictions, we organised a special Youth Choir Evensong which took place in June. This gave us the opportunity to bring our members together, to catch up socially and to sing some great music. We are planning to meet them again in the autumn in preparation for a concert scheduled for Sunday 14 November.
Following the successful inaugural meeting of the North American Friends of the Temple Church, Inner and Middle Temple convened a small planning group to plan a lecture, in order to promote understanding about the Rule of Law and its advancement internationally. The group is keen to expand the network of friends and believes there is likely to be interest in becoming involved from colleagues in Canada, another leading common law jurisdiction.
As the natural hub for future engagement of this kind and opportunities for more informal interactions as part of the Temple Church’s activity (as the ‘cradle of the common law’) we marked US Independence Day at a special service of Choral Evensong and to mark Canada Day. Members of the Friends have a standing invitation to our services of Choral Evensong followed by drinks in the Master’s garden and, in due course, to become involved in a social programme in the heart of legal London.
We are very grateful to a growing number of our friends in North America who are generously contributing to our appeal for financial contributions not only to support the programme but also to assist us in the renewal and restoration of the Temple Church (see further below).
A link for making tax-efficient donations through the Charities Aid Foundation America can be accessed here:
As many readers will now be aware, this project has three main elements:
The project, which has been summarised in previous newsletters, is described in more detail here.
Most of the work involved in conceiving and developing a masterplan (RIBA Stage 2) has been undertaken. The search for a design solution for improving access to the Triforium is continuing.
We are now approaching the stage when a co-ordinated design begins to take form from the settled concept design (RIBA Stage 3). It is usually during or at the end of this stage that a formal application for planning permission is made. As previously reported in these newsletters, before we could get to that stage, and only after having consulted the Church Committee (to whom we have been reporting regularly on progress), the members of both Inns will have to be consulted about the proposals and their approval obtained.
With the Inns’ support, we envisage the launch of a funding campaign aimed at individual donors and the Inns‘ members (as was undertaken in support of the refurbishment of the Church Organ in 2011-13), in addition to making approaches to relevant charitable trusts.
All donations to the funding appeal will be appropriately acknowledged. Opportunities for recognition in suitable form of substantial donations from institutional and individual donors are being considered. We also hope to hold a suitable event to introduce the Restoration and Renewal project to potential donors and the Inns’ members, accompanied with some hospitality and music provided by the Temple Church Choir. Watch this space!
It is hoped that, as part of an integrated package of governance changes (see further below), the registration of the Temple Church as a charitable trust with the Charity Commission will not only facilitate donations to the Church’s appeal but also enable the Church to approach a variety of sources of funds, and thereby enhance the prospects of success of the Restoration and Renewal project.
Mr Reader meets Bob the gardener …
The Master of the Temple’s garden is rather unusual. It is based above centuries-old brick vaults in which Benchers of the Inner and Middle Temple used to be buried. The top soil is only three feet deep and unsurprisingly it is very well drained. But this has not prevented this delightful enclave from winning several awards and accolades, thanks to the efforts of the gardener, Bob McMeekin.
Like the original Master’s House and the Church, the garden suffered from extensive wartime bomb damage. Nevertheless it has been lovingly brought back to life and provides a wonderful setting for chambers’ summer parties and for fund-raising and other events.
Mixed borders, with shrubs, roses, herbaceous plants and some evergreens, frame a lawn and terrace in front of the south-facing house with its magnificent Wisteria which requires a major pruning operation two or three times a year. Two large Magnolia trees occupy a prominent position, near the east wall of the Church. Notwithstanding the shallow soil they appear to thrive here although the blooms this year did not survive for very long because of the cold spring.
The garden is approached from Church Court by a short flight of steps through a wrought iron gate between a tall, well-manicured Hornbeam palisade. Bob is particularly proud of the hybrid Clematis (a Polish variety, Blekitny Aniol, Blue Angel) which has grown up the railings and onto the gate. Its pale rosy blue star-like flowers tinted lilac with crinkled edges and yellow stamens have provided a stunning backdrop for many wedding couples’ photographs in the summer. Bob sees the Blue Angel Clematis giving a ‘suitably celestial’ touch to the Master’s garden.
Having been a part-time gardener for Inner Temple, Bob has been tending the Master’s garden, which he visits once a week throughout the year, for the last 11 years. He needs to spend much of his time keeping it well-watered, especially in the summer months.
What drew Bob, who was born in Scotland, to gardening? ‘I wanted to get into horticulture from an early age but started work in catering originally. I studied horticulture in Glasgow in my 20s before working for the National Trust in Scotland and that enabled me to attend the Threave School of Horticulture at Castle Douglas in Dumfriesshire.’ He went on to undertake a three-year diploma course at the Royal Botanic Gardens School of Horticulture at Kew before working in Italy, followed by the Turks and Caicos Islands (on a conservation project, growing endangered plant species).
Bob came to London because ‘there’s a shortage of gardeners and it’s warmer and drier than Scotland.’ He adds in his softly spoken voice: ‘… and there are no midges.’
He thinks the Master’s garden is at its best in the spring when the Wisteria, Magnolia and bulbs are in bloom. In fact there is much to see and admire all the year round in this garden of earthly delights in the Temple above what remains in the vaults below.
Temple Music's autumn season sees the return of full capacity concerts to the Temple Church and opened with a sell-out concert launching a new album by regular Temple Music performer, Grace Davidson and saxophonist, Christian Forshaw on 28 September. The following evening acclaimed American pianist, Jeffrey Siegel, made his long-awaited Temple debut with his famous Keyboard Conversation concert - an entertaining blend of virtuoso performance and engaging insight into the music.
The Sixteen makes its annual visit to Temple Music on 18 October with a celebration of Tudor choral music before Temple Music hops over to Middle Temple Hall to welcome Alice Coote and Stuart Jackson on 11 November for Mahler's sorrowful but utterly beautiful Das Lied von der Erde.
The remaining five concerts of the Temple Music season this year all have very direct links to the church. On 14 November the Temple Church Youth Choir perform a concert of Romantic choral music, whilst on 22 November the Temple Singers are directed by Assistant Director of Music, Thomas Allery, for a performance of choral music for unaccompanied voices. Thomas then returns on 29 November with his own early music group Ensemble Hesperi for a concert of 18th century music written within sight of the Temple Church.
In amongst this Temple Singer, Tom Guthrie brings Barokksolistene to Middle Temple Hall on 18 November for an evening fusing flawless ensemble playing and a unique and utterly engaging style of performance featuring Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin.
The final concert of the season welcomes Temple Church's previous Assistant Director of Music, Greg Morris back to the church, with his choir, Collegium Musicum of London, and a line-up of top soloists for the annual Messiah.
Tickets for all of these concerts are selling quickly, so do visit www.templemusic.org for full details and to book.
Sung by the Temple Church Choir
Please note earlier start time of 10.55am
Introit: For the fallen (Guest)
Canticles: Service in C (Britten)
Anthem: Greater Love (Ireland)
An order of service is available here
This service will be live-streamed on the Church's YouTube Channel