The Temple Church, built and dedicated in 1185 as the western representation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was the London base of the Knights Templar until their suppression between 1307-11.
The lawyers of Inner and Middle Temple were well established in the Temple by the 15th Century and in 1608 their occupancy was secured by the grant of Letters Patent from King James I. The two Inns were granted the land on condition that, in addition to the education of barristers, they maintain and keep the Church at their own proper cost for ever for the celebration of divine service.
For centuries the Temple Church has been a centre of London’s music. John Playford, the clerk to the Church in the 1660’s, was the first publisher of Purcell’s music and had a famous bookshop in the porch outside the west door.
In the 1840’s the Church was restored and decorated in the grandest gothic style. To mark its reopening, the Inns retained a small choir of men and boys. In 1843 they appointed E J Hopkins as Organist, confirmed the establishment of the choir and re-ordered the stalls to give the music a greater prominence. Since its foundation, the Temple Church’s distinguished choir of men and boys has provided the music for the liturgy of the Temple Church and for Memorial Services and Marriages. Its members first wore ‘royal scarlet’ cassocks in Westminster Abbey at the Coronation of King George VI in May 1937.