The Temple church is one of the oldest – and oddest – in London.  It used to also be one of the quietest until Dan Brown featured it in The Da Vinci Code.  It is now often  besieged by groups of slightly baffled looking visitors clutching his book.  It is easy to be snobby about such things but in actual fact the environs of the church – the courtyards and alleys of the Middle Temple are wonderful for everyone.  I particularly like the sombre message on the sundial in Pump Court:

“Like shadows we are and like shadows depart!”

Very appropriate in a country where you can only use a sun dial about ten days a year.

Sitting by the pool in Fountain court as the Autumn leaves are falling is a happy thing.  It is the spot in Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit where John Westlock declares his love for Ruth Pinch:

“Brilliantly the Temple Fountain sparkled in the sun, and laughingly its liquid music played, and merrily the idle drops of water danced and danced, and, peeping out in sport among the trees, plunged lightly down to hide themselves, as little Ruth and her companion came towards it.

One thing that the Da Vinci tourists and Dan Brown (though not Dickens) miss of course is that the ancients had a rather well defined sense of humour.  These images are some of the caricatures and grotesque gargoyles sprinkled amongst the saints and general worthies within the church.