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The Restoration of the Temple Church: Ecclesiology and Recrimination

  • J. Mordaunt Crook
Extract

The restoration of the Temple Church in the early 1840s was a major triumph for ecclesiology and a minor tragedy for several of the individuals involved. Natural hazards, from the Great Fire to Hitler's bombs, and the fashions of taste, from the age of Wren to the age of Pugin, have combined to make the Temple Church an architectural palimpsest of extraordinary interest. Its construction during the 12th and 13th centuries had been a milestone in the development of the Gothic style. The alterations of the 17th and 18th centuries represent an interesting commentary on the vagaries of liturgical fashion. Its restoration during the 19th century was an early landmark in the history of the Gothic Revival. Its partial destruction in 1941 made possible the most drastic and the most accomplished restoration of all.

Both the Inner and Middle Temple contributed to the remarkable expansion of public building during the post-Napoleonic period. In 1819 both societies appointed a new architect with a mandate for reconstruction. The Inner Temple chose Robert (later Sir Robert) Smirke.

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Notes

1. The restoration was the work of W. H. Godfrey, cf. Country Life, 13.XI.1958.

2. John Gorham, “surveyor and bricklayer”, died in 1801 and was succeeded by James Hall of Bloomsbury Place. Hall died in 1809 and was replaced by Joseph Wigg, who resigned in 1819. In 1811 Wigg was presented with a piece of plate costing £50, “for his attention to the repairing and beautifying of the Temple Church ”. (Inner Temple MSS, Inner Temple Bench Table Orders (henceforth I.T.B.T.O.), Index 1801–26, p. 453–4). In 1814 he was responsible for Nos. 10 and 11 King's Bench Walk, (ibid., p. 54).

3. Surveyor, Engineer and Architect, 1840, 248 .

4. Charles Lamb, ‘The Old Benchers’ from Essays of Elia, (1823). ed. Sir F. D. Mac- kinnon, 1927.

5. Cf. A New View of London, 1708, II, 563823 ; Maitland, , History of London (1756 edn.); Jekyll, J., Facts and Observations relating to the Temple Church, 1811 ; Billings, R. W., Illustrations of the Temple Church, 1838 ; and prints in National Buildings Record and Bodleian Douce Portfolio N. 8.

6. Gentleman's Magazine, 1811, I, 100 .

7. Ibid., 1808, II, 1000.

8. Literary Gazette, 1840, 839 .

9. Gentleman's Magazine, 1808, II, 997 . For the celebrated organ cf. Thornbury, J., Old and New London, 1897, I, 154 ; Worley, G., The Church of the Knights Templars, 1907, pp. 66–9. For the reredos cf. Wren Society, XIV, p. xxiii.

10. Gentleman's Magazine, 1811,1,100.

11. Baylis, T. H., Temple Church, 1900, p. 65 .

12. Billings, , op. cit., p. 47 .

13. Allen, T., History of London, 1827, IV, 394–5.

14. Godwin, G., Churches of London, 1838, I .

15. I.T.B.T.O., 24.11.1826.

16. Athenaeum, 1843, 301 .

17. Smirke, S. and Essex, R. H., Temple Church Restored, 1845, p. 4 . The Chapel was in turn a shrine for barren wives, a conference chamber, and a depository for the records of the Fine Office of the Court of Common Pleas. (I.T.B.T.O., 8.11.1825). It may once have been an organ chamber. The undercroft survived. (Cf. plans by Society of Antiquaries in Vetusta Monumenta, 1828; Gentleman's Magazine, 1824, 11, 128, 405–7, 409; 1827, I, 386; Burge, T., Temple Church, 1843, p. 16 ; prints of demolition in National Buildings Record).

18. I.T.B.T.O., 24.11.1826 and 30.11.1830.

19. Allen, op. cit.; Knight, C., London, 1877, V, 22–3; Billings, , op. cit., p. 55 ; Godwin, op. cit.; Gentleman's Magazine, 1838, x, 292 .

20. I.T.B.T.O., 27.1.1819 and 20.11.1829; Wright, T., History and Antiquities of London, Westminister and Southwark, 1837, p. 347 .

21. I.T.B.T.O., 30.11.1830.

22. Ibid., 14.6.1839 (Crosby's report) and 31.7.1839 (Smirke's report).

23. Ibid., 29.5.1840.

24. Ibid., 3.11.1840. The reredos returned from its exile in the Bowes Museum after bombing had obliterated its successor, designed by Sydney Smirke and improved by R. Blomfield. The pulpit was placed in Christ Church Newgate ( Kent, W., Encyclopaedia of London, 1937 ).

25. Addison, C. G., Temple Church, 1843, p. 46 .

26. I.T.B.T.O., 3.11.1840.

27. Ibid., 16.6.1843.

28. Ibid., 10.7.1840. In 1868 a new vestry at the east end of the north side replaced that which stood, till 1861, against the north-west wall. There was formerly a vestry on the south side, described as new in the 1664 register. ( Worley, , op. cit., pp. 2021 ).

29. I.T.B.T.O., 3.11.1840 (Cottingham's report).

30. Ibid., 23.4.1841.

31. Ibid.

32. Ibid., 1.5.1841.

33. Ibid., 12.5.1841.

34. Ibid., 19.5.1841.

35. Ibid., 29.5.1841.

36. Ibid., 14.7.1841.

37. Ibid. Savage surrendered a portfolio of 79 drawings.

38. Ibid., 6.10.1841.

39. Ibid., 11.8.1841.

40. Bumpus, T. F., Old Churches of London, 1924, p. 98 .

41. Athenaeum, 1843, 302 .

42. Builder, 1847, 241 .

43. Ibid., 1843, 470; Gentleman's Magazine, 1842, XVIII, 521 and 1843, XIX, 31; Bumpus, , op. cit., p. 94 ; Smirke, S., op. cit., p. 6 ; Summerly, F., A Glance at the Temple Church, 1842 .

44. Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal, 1841, 26 ; Athenaeum, 1843 , 39: Burge, op. cit., p. 46; S. Smirke, op. cit.

45. I.T.B.T.O., 6.10.1841.

46. Loftie, W. J., Inns ol Court and Chancery, 1895, p. 55 .

47. Knight, , op. cit., p. 20 .

48. I.T.B.T.O., 10.2.1841. Savage had planned “ a monumental cloister round three sides of the Master's garden”, (ibid., 3.11.1840).

49. Athenaeum, 1842, 1014.

50. I.T.B.T.O., 16.6.1843.

51. Gentleman's Magazine, 1843, xx, 301 ; Bellot, H.H.L., Inner and Middle Temple, 1902, p. 228 .

52. I.T.B.T.O., 16.6.1843.

53. Ibid., 12.3.1844, 6.3.1844.

54. Athenaeum 1843, 301 . A special opening service was held on Sunday, 29th October, 1843, ( Builder, 1843, I, 470 ).

55. Ecclesiologist, 1842, I, 41 .

56. Ibid., 24 and 98. Sydney Smirke's altar and reredos were altered by Reginald Blomfield in 1908.

57. Christian Remembrancer, 1842, IV, 611–23.

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Architectural History
  • ISSN: 0066-622X
  • EISSN: 2059-5670
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