By Stuart Frost
I’ll confess immediately. This blog entry has very little to do with Dan Brown or the Da Vinci Code. I simply thought that if I mentioned the Da Vinci Code in the title I might increase my chances of picking up a few more hits. The real subject here is Temple Church. Dan Brown aficionados will know the church does feature in both his book and the film based upon it.
From time to time I’ve been using this blog to highlight temporary exhibitions elsewhere to which the V&A has loaned objects from its medieval and Renaissance collections. I suspect that people might be surprised by the number of loans the V&A makes to other museums around the country and globally. Some objects travel vast distances. Others travel only a few miles.
The photographs here are of two nineteenth century plaster copies of tomb effigies taken from originals in Temple Church, London. Click on the pictures to find out more about them. In total there are four plaster casts effigies from originals in Temple Church in the V&A’s collections. The two photographs used here were taken in the V&A’s spectacular Cast Courts, one of the most striking museum spaces anywhere in the world. At the moment only one of the four plaster cast effigies is in its usual home. The other three can be found alongside the originals in Temple Church in a temporary exhibition, The Temple Church 1185-2008: History, Architecture and Effigies.
I’d imagine that some of you may be wondering what is to be gained by placing the plaster casts alongside the stone effigies? However the originals were damaged in 1941, long after the casts had been taken.
The casts of the effigies are not the only connection between the V&A and Temple Church. The picture below shows the wonderful west doorway of the church. This was restored during the nineteenth century. Several carved blocks were removed and replaced during the work, and four original weathered blocks came to the V&A via the collections of the Architectural Association. These architectural elements from the doorway will be displayed in the new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, three in a new day-lit gallery space and one in a display about the Romanesque style.
Although you’ll have to wait until November 2009 before you can see the blocks, the three plaster cast effigies are on display at Temple Church until Sunday 15 June. After the exhibition closes they will return to the Cast Courts to be reunited with Robert de Roos. Temple Church is renowned for its circular knave and, like the Cast Courts at the V&A, is well worth a visit.
Click here to find out more about the Temple Church and the exhibition there.
Click here to find out more about the Cast Collection at the V&A.