The Castle at Athlit


The Castle at Athlit, Israel

On the 14th and 15th of August 1291, the Knight’s Templar withdrew from their final stronghold in the Holy Land – their castle at Athlit (or Atlit, sometimes called Chateau Pelerin) following the loss of Acre. Over the past 725 years, the castle has been used for many purposes and parts still stand today.

In England, they still have a physical connection with that castle. It is the simple but beautiful stone altar which stands in the crypt immediately below the main altar in the church of All Hallows-by- the-Tower in the City of London. The altar is formed of massive stone slabs brought back to England from Castle Athlit from what is reputed to have been the chapel of King Richard I (Richard the Lion-heart).

This simply altar is (perhaps) the holiest place in Western Europe for the Knights Templar. To be able to stand, sit or kneel in front of this altar is to be the nearest one can be today to a place where our noble forebears worshipped God and received Holy Communion – the body and blood of Jesus, “the creator of all things, visible and invisible” [John 1, verses 1-3) – the Saviour and Reedemer of the human race who, together with the Holy Spirit and the Father, is One God.


Stone Alter at All Hallows by the Tower

In the picture above is that altar in use during a Templar Vigil Services where those individuals who are to be Invested spend a quiet hour in prayer and meditation before their Investiture Service commences. Meanwhile, if you are visiting the Tower of London, pay a visit to All Hallows by the Tower (it is literally by the Tower) and spend a while there remembering the Knights who brought those very stones to England 725 years ago.