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Temple Church
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Da Vinci Code: UK

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code sees Robert and Sophie in London. There are frustrations with cryptex clues — instead of one revealing the secrets of the Grail, once opened yet another cryptex is revealed.

Biggin Hill Airport

The two fly across the Channel and land at Biggin Hill Airport on London's outskirts. Once an RAF base, this is now a busy commercial regional airport operating around 125,000 flights a year. It is home base for corporate, private and charter aircraft and a thriving business centre.

Fleet Street

Their next destination is reached by a fast drive along Fleet Street, once home to the British print media. Even though most newspaper offices have been relocated, "Fleet Street" is still used as a generic term to describe the British press. The street follows the course of the Fleet, one of London's ghost rivers which still flows underground and is a sanctioned section of London's sewer system.

Temple Church

Just off Fleet Street is Temple church, a house of worship famed for its rare circular nave. It was built by the Knights Templar, an order of crusading monks, in the 12th century. The order started out poor, dedicated to the protection of pilgrims, but grew obscenely rich thanks to showers of royal gifts. In the 14th century they were charged with heresy, blasphemy and sodomy, thrown into the Tower of London and stripped of their wealth.

The Red Knights, called after the red crosses they wore, held secret initiation rites in the Temple crypt.

The round church was consecrated in 1185 by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. It was designed to recall the holiest place in the Crusaders' world, the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Its excellent acoustics are wonderful for singing. It has life-sized stone effigies of nine knights, including William the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, the most important mediator between King John and the barons in 1215.

The chancel, which has been called perfect, was built in 1240. The leaning dark marble columns are replicas of the 13th-century columns which stood until World War II and also leant outwards. Its vault survived the bombings. The building is a fine representation of Gothic-Romanesque architecture, tamed slightly by Victorian and postwar restoration.

King's College

King's is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London, a major multi-faculty university institution with over 19,000 students. Its reputation for teaching and research is worldwide.

Sophie and Robert went to this famous college to use its religious research library. Seeking information about a knight's tomb, they had to work quickly to narrow their search, as London has thousands of such tombs. In their efforts to search for the Grail, they realised they needed to find the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton.

Location

London and Edinburgh in the UK

Cost

Temple Church is open between Wednesday and Sunday. They suggest that to avoid disappointment, those who wish to visit should re-confirm opening times with the verger.

Globus has a 14-day Secrets of Da Vinci tour leaving Rome on July 3, 2005. It includes some meals, twin-share accommodation, transport and tours for $3999 per person. Its itinerary takes in Rome, Milan, the Lake Geneva area, Geneva, Paris, London, and finishing in Edinburgh. Tours can be booked through Flight Centre.

British Airways flies daily to Europe.

Flight Centre has return economy airfares to Rome, Paris and London starting at $1646 per person, plus taxes.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Biggin Hill Airport
Biggin Hill
Kent TN16 3BN UK
Ph: (44) 20 1959 57 8500
Fax: (44) 20 1959 540 406
www.bigginhillairport.com

Temple Church
Inner Temple Lane
Off Fleet Street
London EC49 7BB UK
Ph: (44) 20 7353 8559
Verger: (44) 20 7353 3470
verger@templechurch.com
www.templechurch.com

The King's College
Strand, London WC2R 2LS UK
Ph: (44) 20 7836 5454
www.kcl.ac.uk
ceu@ckl.ac.uk

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