Temple and Arch

Note: This is a cross-posting from Paul Holmquist’s “Neverwhat?” blog, chronicling his research for directing our spring MainStage production of Neverwhere.

Temple and Arch

The architecture of England’s oldest and most revered churches are founded on the sanctity of the Temple and the invention of the structural marvel of the Arch.  It is a fascinating choice of Gaiman to use the phrase “Temple and Arch” as an evocation, a prayer, an oath. London Below is dependent on the tunneling technology of the Victorian era but before there were tunnels, the churches of England unified the greater culture of the island.  Roman technology journeyed north in the settlement of early London and the surrounding countryside.  And as the Christian faith was spread through the countryside, heathen temples became churches, the communities were centralized by parishes, church leaders maintained lineage and family records giving even deeper generational connection to the area, and eventually the identity of the township was known by the sound of its church bell.

Here are two slideshows of pictures of two well known churches.

The first is of St. Paul’s (Old Bailey’s favorite site), one of the tallest buildings in the City.  It stands as a sentinel, with its iconic dome and central location in the square mile known as the City of London. There is something incredibly gratifying about finding it randomly as you scan the rooftops of London; a landmark that immediately orients you to where you stand, where North, South, East and West is, where to find the Thames, the Tate Modern, the Tower of London. It is also a beautiful site on its own.

This second series was taken on a side trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon. It is of the 13th century church where Shakespeare is allegedly buried, Holy Trinity Church.  While the actual exhibition space of Shakespeare’s grave was closed for renovation, I took a myriad of pictures of the mossy gravestones, flora and finials, beautiful and frightening gargoyles, stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings and carved wooden pews. The iconography of angels are everywhere. There’s a red winged angel in one of the windows that made me wonder.

Wrapped into the functional brick and tile of the London underground is great reference to the Temples and Arches of England’s architectural identity. With timeless characters populating our story, we could make reference to the Temple and Arch of their roots and beliefs somehow. Not to mention Bridges. And Doors. More of those to come…

Meanwhile, let me introduce the illustrious Maren Robinson, our dramturg. She will have many a thing or two more to add here, so I’ve asked her to feel free to contribute.  She’s already sent me some thoughts of greater depth on the relationship of the word Temple to London’s identity.  Instead of crudely regurgitating her thoughts, I’ll let her speak for herself.