All pictures taken: Temple Church, London.
Date: November 10, 2011.
Camera: Panasonic TZ3.
Temple is one of those mysterious and intriguing parts of London with a rich history. It's primarily a legal enclave: the area is home to two of London's four Inns of Court — Inner and Middle Temple — which are ancient societies of barristers.
Barristers have been based on the site ever since James I granted them tenure in 1608, although there's been a legal presence since the 14th century.
Walking around the traffic-free streets, gardens and courtyards is a bit like stepping back in time.
The interior is particularly stunning, with its high vaulted roof and beautiful stained glass windows. But what makes this church unusual is its architecture, which comprises a "normal" rectangular building (above) with a round building attached at one end.
According to a leaflet I picked up in the church, the round church (as it is known) was consecrated in 1185 and is modelled on the circular church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the site of Christ's death, burial and resurrection.
The ceiling of the round church is impressive.
As is the floor, where effigies of the Knights Templar lay (above left) — if you've ever read Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code then you will know this church, and the effigies, play a starring role. (You can found out more about the links between the book and the church in this fascinating article.)
The church is open to the public but there is a £3 fee to enter. Note that times may vary, so it pays to check in advance via the official website. I've wandered past this church on numerous occasions over the past decade, but when I made a spontaneous visit on Friday, with two VIP Australian guests in tow, it was the first time I had been able to enter. It was worth the wait.