Temple is a tiny hamlet on Bodmin Moor, situated a few miles from Blisland. It has a small population with several cottages and a few farms gathered in this peaceful moorland settlement.
St. Catherine’s Church is truly unique. A small picturesque church founded by the medieval Knights Templar and renowned for its remoteness, lack of electricity and its tranquillity.
St. Catherine’s holds just 6 services a year, which are always well attended. The most popular being the Candlelit Christmas Carol service, where only those in the congregation arriving early are lucky enough to find a seat.
During Covid 19 restrictions services were still held, only in the church yard.
Temple Church was incorporated into the parish of Blisland in 1934 and there are very close links between the two communities.
Despite there only being a few services held every year at St. Catherine’s, the residents of Temple are very proud of their church and its heritage, and are highly supportive.
Other than it's connection with the Knights Templar the church has had an interesting history.
None more so than it's time as the "Gretna Green of the South West".
At some point, prior to the mid 16th century, this tiny church in the middle of nowhere became famous, or perhaps more appropriately infamous, as a place where ‘quickie’ weddings could take place without the need for banns to be read or a marriage licence granted; perfect for illicit elopements.
This all came to an abrupt end in 1744 when St Catherine’s Church came under episcopal jurisdiction.
John Norden (c.1547-1625) in his Speculi Britanniae Pars: A Topographical and Historical Description of Cornwall wrote:
‘It is a place exempted from the bishops Jurisdiction, appertayninge in former times to the Templers: It is a lawless churche (as they call it) where manie badd marriages (where or howsoever contracted) are consumated. And here were they wonte to bury suche as wrowght violent death upon themselves…'
And according to John Norden victims of suicide could be buried on the consecrated ground within the churchyard which was unheard elsewhere in the country. In fact, it wasn’t until 1823 that a statute was passed to legalise the burial of suicides in consecrated ground; and it’s only since 2015 that the Church of England has granted a full religious service to such people.