Step off Fleet Street into Inner Temple and the sounds of the city instantly melt away. Beyond you lies Temple Church — a 12th-century masterpiece that’s about as far removed from London’s “beaten track” as you can get.
The church and its adjoining graveyard are protected by the Goldsmith buildings, meaning that it was almost silent when I visited on a busy Wednesday lunchtime.
The entrance to the church is on the other side of the graveyard, which means you get a secluded view of the church and its 12th-century round to yourself.
Speaking of Goldsmith… Oliver Goldsmith himself is buried in the graveyard, and his gravestone bears a quote from his friend Samuel Johnson, who lived just up the road in Gough Square: “…who left scarcely any style of writing untouched, and touched nothing that he did not adorn.”
To add to the charm of the place, there are vegetables growing in a patch in the middle of the graveyard…
The church itself is about as far from a tourist trap as you can get — you could hear a pin drop inside, and the light streaming in through the huge windows makes it seem like the church is glowing.
Behind you is the church round, which was built by the Knights Templar to recreate the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem — the holiest place in the world.
The current Magna Carta exhibition in the round is very fitting, since this building served as King John’s headquarters from 1214-1215, and it was here that the barons first confronted him about a charter.
Two of the men who mediated when John eventually signed Magna Carta — including William the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke who was an adviser to King John and regent to Henry III — were also buried here.
Climb to the upper level to get a good view of their effigies, as well as a birds-eye view of the round.
When you’ve soaked it all in, make sure you turn left as you leave the church and cross the square, to stop for a few minutes to admire the vista.
Temple Church: the essentials
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm
Address: Temple, London EC4Y 7BB
Nearest Tube: Temple
More information: Visit the Temple Church website here