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Temple Church

Temple Church is so-called because the original church was built by the Knights Templar. The Templars, a society of soldier-monks, was formed during the time of the Crusades to defend the Holy Sepulchre and guard pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem.

They had been granted land across the Avon from Bristol by Robert, Earl of Gloucester in the mid-12th Century.

Later, the Knights Templar fell into disrepute. 'As their prosperity increased, their vices were multiplied and their arrogance, luxury and cruelty rose ... to such a monstrous height.' This led to the Knights being abolished in 1312, when their estates were taken over by the order of St John of Jerusalem.

The first church was circular and only its foundations exist. The earliest part which survives today is from the 14th Century, although most of the remains date from the 15th Century. The church was bombed during the Second World War. The dramatic westward lean of the tower, however, developed within a short time of its construction, due to being built on marshy land. The foundations were strengthened and a further section added to the tower, which leans in a different direction from the rest.

Temple was a large church with several chantries. It included a Weavers' Chapel which contained much painted glass.

Dedication of the church was to the Holy Cross, but after the devasting bombing it was deconsecrated. The ruins are now looked after by English Heritage.
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