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Temple Church is a ruined 14th century church under which is the buried remains of a 12th century church. The earlier church, built by the Knights Templar, was circular in form, typical of churches of this order and based on the form of the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Nothing shows at ground level of the original, circular, church, but its form influenced the development of the later church. Its foundations were excavated, and its plan is now marked out inside the later church. The 14th century church includes a nave with a 5-bay hall, an aisled chancel of three bays, a sanctuary and a tower. The tower was finished in 1460 and is 34.75 metres high and leans almost 1.5 metres out of true. The Templar's church was built on land outside the city of Bristol, granted to the order by Robert, Earl of Gloucester, between 1120 and 1147. It appears that the Temple became the administrative centre for the order in south west England. Archaeological evidence suggests that the church was altered in the early 13th century. In circa 1300 the chancel was rebuilt and extended and a chapel was built on the north side. In 1313 the church, known as Holy Cross, was transferred to the Knights Hospitallers. In the early 14th century more chapels were built. The present nave dates from the last quarter of the 14th century, and it must have been at this time that the circular nave was demolished. The rebuilding of the nave appears to have been complete by the end of the 14th century, and the tower was begun in 1441. In 1540 the Hospitallers were suppressed by Henry VIII, and Holy Cross survived as a parish church. The church was refitted in the 18th century, and restorations took place in 1872, 1907 and 1911. In 1940, the church was badly damaged by bombing, and in 1958 the ruins were taken into state care.

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