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14 October 2014
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On the Trail of the Templars

Rounded inside of the Temple Church building in London

Temple Church, London
The circular nave of Temple Church in London, built by the Knights Templar to resemble the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Restored after 1941 bombing.

Martin Palmer travelled here to begin his journey in search of the Templars for a Radio 4 documentary, On the Trail of the Templars, broadcast Monday 18 June 2007.

Martin Palmer looks down at the carving of a fully-armoured stone knight on the top of a tomb

Martin with Knights' effigies, Temple Church
The nine knights whose effigies are found at Temple Church are not actually the nine founding knights of the Templar order.

Robin Griffiths-Jones (left) with Martin Palmer, with effigies of knights Templar visible among the stone pillars of the church interior

Martin with the Master of the Temple Church, Robin Griffiths-Jones
Martin Palmer meets the Master of the Temple Church, the Revd Robin Griffiths-Jones, in its round nave.

Audio: Revd Robin Griffiths-Jones, Master of the Temple Church, talks about the building (11:34 mins)

Inside of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre dome.  Light streams in from the opening at the top, illuminating the gold sunburst and star patterns on the ceiling

Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
The dome of the basilica built by Constantine in Jerusalem to house the Holy Sepulchre at the centre of Christendom.

Facade of the Al-Aqsa mosque, a stone building on square lines with three arched doorways.  Visitors stand around talking and security lights are visible on the corners of the roof

Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Jerusalem base of the Templar order
The Al-Aqsa Mosque, built on the site of the former Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, was the headquarters of the Knights Templar in the era of the Crusades.

Martin Palmer (left) with Prof Jonathan Riley-Smith in front of the grey stone and brick building of Denny Abbey.  Gaps and repairs are visible all over the wall

Martin with Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith at Denny Abbey
Denny Abbey, near Cambridge, is a former Templar Commandery where aged and infirm knights were housed.

Audio: Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith talks about the development of the Templar order (18:32 mins)

Gloved hands cradling an ancient, fragile-looking disc of lead, its diameter about as long as a hand and its grooved surface pitted with age

Lead paten, Templar design, Denny Abbey
A lead paten, buried with a priest at Denny Abbey, shows a Templar cross inscribed with a compass, demonstrating direct Arab influence.

Left-hand side: Martin Palmer stands inside a church, with stained-glass window and altar in background, looking up towards the ceiling through binoculars.  Top right and bottom right: carved faces of knights in the stonework high up in the church

Templar figures, Temple Balsall
The church at Temple Balsall contains figures of Templar knights. You need binoculars to view them.

Top right: Is Martin right to identify this figure as King Solomon? It has the headgear of a High Priest, as Solomon wears when depicted elsewhere in medieval glass.

Bottom right: One of the knight figures.

Martin Palmer views a painting on the wall of Templecombe Preceptory. The painting is dark and looks faint from age, but a saintly or Christlike male face is visible in the centre

The Templecombe painting
Martin views the Templar painting discovered at Templecombe. Could this be evidence of a secret veneration of John the Baptist? Or as Martin believes, a re-creation of an Eastern icon of Christ?

Martin Palmer, third from left, talking to  three people.  The two other men wear traditional Templar mantles, white with a red splayed cross visible on one side, and the woman is wearing the same red cross symbol around her neck

Templecombe Preceptory of the Grand Priory of Knights Templar
Martin meets with Geoff Beck and other members of the Templecombe Preceptory of the Grand Priory of the Knights Templar in England and Wales.

Martin stands on uneven stone foundations overgrown with plants. The stone wall of the newer building is visible in the background encircling the area

Templar Round Church foundations, Garway
Martin inspects the excavated foundations of the round Templar church at Garway, "stamped upon" by the later building, as was the Templar order itself.

Martin Palmer (left) with Helen Nicholson inside a church looking at a Templar arched doorway of crenellated brown stone

Martin with Helen Nicholson and Templar arch, Garway Church
Martin speaks with Templar scholar Helen Nicholson below the Templar arch that survived at Garway.

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