Crabs, bats and communists, in Cuba's greatest Soviet souvenir.
What you’re looking at here is half a story – it’s an idea I came up with a while ago, and something that’s likely to end up on the blog, in full, one of these days soon.
When the Knights Templar returned from the Crusades to establish economic and trade bases across Europe in the 12th century, one of their main sites was located on the bank of the River Fleet in London. There they built a round church, based on the design of the Temple in Jerusalem; it’s called Temple Church, and it still stands on the spot today.
Contemporary Fleet Street is named after the River Fleet – a tributary of the Thames which was long regarded as a holy waterway according to practitioners of Britain’s native druidism. Some have theorised an occult connection, a more mystical reason why the Templars chose to base themselves at this sacred place. The River Fleet itself has long since disappeared, though. Like many of the other Thames tributaries, the growth of London forced the river underground. It now flows through brick and cement tunnels, deep beneath the streets of London.
I plan to write an article that looks at the significance of the Fleet, its connection to the Knights Templar, and how history has served to bury both these stories beneath tons of fresh tarmac, brick and steel. One part of the article will feature a visit to Temple Church, while the other half will involve an expedition down to the subterranean tunnels which now carry what’s left of the River Fleet.
Back in 2014, I visited the Fleet through an access hatch located a little way north of modern Fleet Street. It was just a cursory visit though, and I didn’t take any photographs that time. My plan is to go back and photograph this underground waterway in detail. The result, I imagine, is going to read something like a cross between my article on London’s ‘Lost River Effra,’ and my more recent, rather lengthy post about touring the occult sites of ancient London.
For now at least, here’s half the story: my set of photos from Temple Church.