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Round Church

circular, holy, sepulchre, building, churches and temple

ROUND CHURCH, this appellation is given to a few churches which exist of a peculiar construction, being erected on a plan either simply circular, or circular with a rectangu lar projection : the circular portion in both cases being that which forms its peculiarity. There are only four such struc tures in England—the Temple Church, London, which is the largest and most magnificent ; the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Cambridge ; one with the same dedication at Northampton ; and a small church at Little Maplestead, in Essex. In all these, the round or circular portion bears evidence of greater antiquity than the other parts of the edifice : and there can be no doubt but that the latter are more recent additions to the original structure, which for the most part are employed as a choir, the circular part being retained as the nave. The round consists generally of two, sometimes of three stories, the upper stories being of less diameter than the lower one, and supported on massive piers and arches of Norman-work, by which an aisle is formed all round the interior, between the arcade and the external wall : above the arcade is a triforium, and above this again a clere story, the roof above being vaulted.

It was at one time held that such buildings had been origi nally constructed by the Jews for synagogues ; but this mistake is now exploded, and it is universally allowed that they were built by the Knights Templars, or Hospitallers, who were en gaged in the Crusade to recover possession of the Holy Sepul chre at Jerusalem out of the hands of the infidels, and that the peculiar form was copied from that building. That the form of the church erected over the Holy Sepulchre by the empress Helena was of a circular form, there seems to be every rea son to believe, for we have the evidence of written testimony as well as the form of the existing building ; and although, no doubt, this has been rebuilt and much altered, by additions and otherwise, since the time of Constantine, still there is sufficient reason to satisfy us that its general form has not been departed from. It would seem very natural, too, that the

Crusaders, when they returned from the East. and began to erect new churches, should adopt that form which they had seen employed in the building, for the defence of which they had undergone such labours; the novelty of the form, too, would be likely to attract their attention, and lead to their emulation of it. When, in addition to this, it is considered that no less than two out of the tour churches are dedicated under the name of the Holy Sepulchre, there can be little question as to its origin. Further, a third is named the Temple Church ; and there is evidence that it was conse crated by Ileraclius, bishop of Jerusalem, when he came to England to ask subsidies for carrying on the Crusade ; and there was never any question as to its erection by the Knights Templars, who were especially associated for the defence of the holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem.

Two of these round churches—the Temple, London, and St. Sepulchre's, Cambridge—have, within these last few years, been very creditably restored ; especially the former, on which no expense has been spared to restore it to its pristine splendour ; it is one of the most spirited and liberal restorations which have been attempted, and reflects great honour upon those by whom it was carried into effect. The second has been also very well and carefully restored by the Cambridge Camden, now the Ecclesiological Society ; but it is to be regretted that the effect of the restoration has been partially destroyed by the bigoted introduction of some ornamental accessories, which are totally misplaced in such a building.