For 900 years, this remarkable little sanctum has been a cradle for legal and religious liberties around the world. The oldest part, the Round, was built in 1185 by Knights from the Crusades. Back then, they were considered the good guys, so when befuddled King John ran afoul of his barons, he sought sanctuary here and, under protection of the Knights, hammered out the details of the Magna Carta, which gave common law rights to the people as they never had before. America owes the basis of its Constitution to this building. You can see the stone effigies of nine of the Knights scattered in the Round. Horribly, on May 11, 1941, a Nazi incendiary bomb wrecked this precious place; many of the beautifully carved effigies are now as lumpen and faceless as corpses from Pompeii. The reconstruction of the Temple, which is still a working church serving the legal community in the surrounding Inner and Middle Temple Inns of Court (to which all English barristers must belong), was exacting—notice how the Purbeck Marble columns, sourced from the same Dorset mine as the originals 700 years before, lean slightly according to the architect’s plans from the 1200s. It also has world-famous acoustics, a sublime organ, and a top-notch choir, so if you come, time your visit to coincide with the music schedule.
The Temple Church
Inner Temple, EC4
Our Rating Neighborhood in the quad south of the intersection of Fleet St. and Chancery Lane Hours Generally open Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, but check ahead because hours shift weekly Transportation Tube: Temple or Blackfriars Phone 020/7353-3470 Prices Admission £5 adults, £3 seniors and students, free for children 16 and under Web site The Temple Church
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.