To the End
of the Templars

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Recapture/fall of Jerusalem

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William Marshal II buried in Round Church

William Marshal the Younger, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, was buried next to his father in the Round Church, where his effigy still lies.

1235-6 Henry III and Queen Eleanor bequeathed their bodies to the Templars.  The Templars replaced the small chancel of the Temple Church with the present hall church to be the burial place of the King and Queen.

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New Chancel consecrated

Ascension Day 1240. The new chancel was dedicated in the presence of the King.

Light, airy and simple, it is among the most beautiful of all Early English Gothic churches, close in date and style to the retrochoirs of Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals.  The windows included panels of glass showing the King's armorial bearings.  (Henry III was in fact buried in Westminster Abbey, the Queen in Amesbury).

1237, 1244, 1251. A grant of taxation was made to the King upon the confirmation of the Charter.  The meeting of the Great Council in 1237 was described as a Parliament, the word's first use in the vocabulary of our constitution.

Summer 1258. The Council established by the Provisions of Oxford met daily, in the Temple and elsewhere, 'spending wakeful nights,' the Pope was told, 'to prepare peace for others.'

March 1259. The Council proclaimed in the Temple its first set of proposals, the foundational Provsions of the English Barons, 'on account of the common good of the whole realm and of the King himself'.  The King summoned Parliament to the Tower, demanding that the barons come unarmed.  The barons refused, and insisted on Westminster.  Parliament in fact met at the Temple, a compromise safe for both sides.

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Fall of Acre

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12 October 1297

Edward I re-issued the Great Charter.  An official copy was for the first time enrolled by the Chancery and copied into the earliest of the Chancery's Statute Rolls as an official enactment of the text.

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Sheriff's Inquisition


In 1308 the Sheriffs of London made an inventory of the goods in the Temple. Here are just some excerpts. They help us to envisage the splendour of the Church’s liturgy and music under the Templars: 

In the Great Church.
Six pairs of vestments, with tunics and dalmatics, price of all 48 shillings.
One vestment for festivals, without tunic and dalmatic, 3s.
Five carpets lying before the high altar, and two choir copes, half mark.
Two pairs of organs, 40s.

In the Choir.
Five antiphons [a book containing all anthems and services said or sung in the choir, except the lessons], 3 marks.
Four psalters, 6s.
Four Grails [a book of hymns and prayers, so called because some of the anthems were sung on the steps, gradus, of the altar], 20s.
Nine processionars, 4s for the first 8, then 12d for the last.
Two cushions to chanters’ chairs, and one book for the organs, 5s.

In the Vestry.
Eleven chasubles or Mass vestments of various colours, 20 marks.
Twenty-eight choir copes, and four little copes for the choristers, price of all, £10.
Two cedar staves [music stands] for the chanters, half mark.


In the Choir a full complement of books was on hand. The antiphoners:  chant-books for the Office hours. The graduals: for the Mass. The tropers: containing Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei melodies with the addition of trope verses (such as Kyrie Fons bonitatis or Orbis factor) and very likely the Gloria melody with trope verses Spiritus et alme orphanorum. The tropers or graduals will probably have contained a set of sequences to be sung after the Alleluia on high feast days.

Nine processionals were listed; whereas antiphoners and graduals were usually shared, each choir-member would have his own processional book, for singing on the move. 

In the Great Church were two pairs of organs. (‘Pair’ indicates a double rank of pipes, so the reference is to two instruments.) At this price and disposition imagine small positive organs of about three octaves’ range (needing someone to work the bellows). Such organs were quite common in choir or Lady Chapel, or placed on the rood screen if the screen were strong enough. Two cushions to chanters’ chairs: perhaps one on each side of a divided choir. One book for the organs: probably containing the chants where the organ participated in the performance (elaborating the plainchant, perhaps taking alternate sections).

A breviary has survived of the Templars’ services in ‘The Temple of the Lord’ itself (The Dome of the Rock) on the Temple Mount, the Order’s headquarters in Jerusalem. According to the book’s dedication-hymns, the faithful must sing to the Lord with harp, pipes and trumpet; the heavenly Jerusalem, realised on earth in the Church’s sanctity, is ‘full of melody and jubilant in her songs of praise’.

We are very grateful to Professor David Hiley for his help with these paragpraphs on the music.

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Templars suppressed

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’.