The story of the Knights Templars has always fascinated me. Briefly told these are the highlights:
Around 1119, a French nobleman from the Champagne region founded the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, which was eventually shortened to “Knights Templars”. Jacques de Molay, the last of the Order’s Grand Masters, took office around 1292.
King Philip IV (the Fair) of France mistrusted the Templars, as the organization had declared its desire to form its own state in the Languedoc of south eastern France, similar to how the Teutonic Knights had founded Prussia. Philip had inherited an impoverished kingdom from his father and was already deeply in debt to the Templars.
At dawn on Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip, later to be tortured in locations such as the tower at Chinon (the profile on my blog has a picture of the Tower at Chinon in which Jacques de Molay was tortured), into admitting heresy and other sacrilegious offenses in the Order. Then they were put to death. The Templars reached out to the Pope for assistance, and Pope Clement did write letters to King Philip questioning the arrests, but took no further action. Most monarchs simply didn’t believe the charges, though proceedings were started in England, many Knights were arrested and tried, but not found guilty.
In 1312, under extreme pressure from King Philip IV, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving the Order. In September 2001, a copy of the Chinon Parchment dated 17–20 August 1308 in the Vatican Secret Archives, a document that indicated that Pope Clement V absolved the leaders of the Order in 1308 was found.
So to visit the Temple Church in London was extremely interesting. The Church was built by the Templars and consecrated in 1185 until the order was dissolved in 1312 and their property confiscated. In 1608 James I granted the whole of the area known as the Temple to two societies of lawyers, Inner Temple and Middle Temple to preserve the Church and be held ever more for the profession of the Law.
After visiting the church, we tried to visit some of the things we saw on the Tour of the Hidden Pubs. We found the clock and tower in Fleet St, and the statue of Elizabeth I moved to Fleet St but the rest was too hard to find and we had to get over to West End for the theatre.
At West End we ended up in Covent Garden, Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant, and preparations for Christmas (but its only November!).
After the theatre, we decided to walk to the Tube Station through Covent Garden and encountered the London Film Museum and its exhibition of original James bond vehicles. We immediately decided this was the mission for tomorrow.