Dear Family and Friends,
Spring has come to London! The pots in our front garden are filled with lavender and colorful blossoms and the flowering trees near our flat are beginning to bloom.
Last Sunday, when we made the trek out to the North London Ward, it was sunny and warmer. The daffodils in front of the church “car park” are in bloom and it was very pleasant after the meetings as we waited for the bus.
The Knights Templar
On our P day we rode bus 11 over to Fleet Street to see the Temple Church. We were on the upper deck and a gentleman engaged us in conversation. An American living in Ireland, he was in London on business and doing a little site seeing. He asked if he could tag along with us to the church. Another gentleman behind us joined in the conversation and said he was on his way to the church to visit his friend who is the Master of the Temple. He said to follow him.
The area where the Temple Church is located, is one of my favorite places in London. It’s called the Temple and is the main legal district in the city. Two of the four Inns of Court (professional associations for barristers) are located here and the Courts of Justice are just on the other side of Fleet Street. The buildings surround courtyards and gardens and it is a lovely place to just wander about.
The River Thames is to the south as can be seen in this photo.
The area was originally the headquarters of the Knights Templar and their Temple Church is in the center surrounded today by the Inns of Court. The Temple Church was built in the 12th century and is a round church. The Knights Templar built their churches after the pattern of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This was the second round church built by the Templars in England.
The Knights Templar or Order of the Temple existed during the middle ages. They were created after the first crusade in 1119, initially to protect pilgrims as they traveled to the Holy Land. They were endorsed by the Catholic Church in 1129. The Templars became very rich and powerful throughout Europe until King Philip IV of France persuaded Pope Clement V to disband the order. Many of the Templars were executed and their property taken. In 1307, Edward II took control of the property in London and two colleges of lawyers moved in. Today the church has an active Anglican congregation and the current, ‘Reverend and Valiant Master of the Temple’ is Robin Griffith-Jones. He is the friend the gentleman on the bus was coming to visit.
The most fascinating thing about the inside of the church are the stone effigies of Templars on the floor.
The round part of the church is connected to a more rectangular structure built a half century later.
In a small booklet I purchased, the Master of the Temple, Robin Griffith-Jones, said of the Templars, “They were brave and committed people shaped by their own time and inspired by it’s ideals…we can sense the humanity of men who gave up all that they had, sailed the whole length of their world to fight and, if needs be, died for their faith.”
Saturday we again met up with the young Elders, Baker and Lawrence, took them to lunch and then went with them to teach an investigator. We are so impressed with the excellent job these young men do. They taught a lesson on the Word of Wisdom and the young investigator was very open to hearing what they had to say.
The type of work we do on our mission is much different that what we experience when we go with the young Elders. This past week was an extremely busy one at The National Archives. On Tuesday alone, we had 90 patrons come to our area on the first floor reading room. Some are just starting their research and we are happy to sit down with them and show them the websites that will help them identify their ancestors. Many already know what to do and ask for help only occasionally.
We meet some very interesting people. One lady told us that her husband works for the Queen and breeds the horses for her stable. They live out at Hampton Court where the horses are usually kept. I was talking with a gentleman who was at the Archives doing research on Loyalists during the American Revolution. He saw our area and decided to stop for a few minutes to see what we had available for family history research. As we were talking about family research I told him I had a quasi Loyalist cousin named Benedict Arnold. He laughed. Benedict is actually my 3rd cousin 5X’s removed. Our common ancestor was Benedict Arnold, the governor of colony of Rhode Island.
Sundays, it’s enjoyable to help members of our ward with their family history. We love doing this work. What a wonderful mission!
Our best to all of you from London,
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)