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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1160 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved Caen stone

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Architectural Association

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 8, The William and Eileen Ruddock Gallery, case 5

This block was once part of the western doorway of the Temple Church in London. It supported one side of the round arch. Most of the block would have been bedded into the wall, leaving only the carved ornament exposed. The strong lines of the highly stylised leaves are characteristic of the Romanesque style.

Physical description

A semi-hollow moulding carved in high relief with scrolling foliage with a bunch of berries on a straight stalk. The surface of this impost block has received extensive abrasion, with resultant loss of detail at the sides.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1160 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved Caen stone


Height: 13.3 cm, Width: 52 cm, Depth: 30 cm, Weight: 23.5 kg

Object history note

This Caen stone (a form of limestone) impost block or abacus was originally part the upper course of a pillar in the Temple Church (St. Mary the Virgin) in London. Pierced, scrolling foliage decorates the piece, which would have formed part of a an arch in the west doorway of the church. The present doorway at the Temple Church appears to be a Victorian replacement, or copy, of the Romanesque originals, of which the present piece is one, that are now in the V&A.

The Temple Church was consecrated on the 10th February 1185, but the church suffered clumsy restorations in recent times, as well as 'improvements' and repairs throughout its history, and finally pollution today, not to mention the air-raids by the Luftwaffe.

Historical context note

An abacus or impost block is the flat slab on top of a capital.

Descriptive line

Limestone impost block from the Temple church, London, ca. 1170-75

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Williamson, Paul. Catalogue of Romanesque Sculpture. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1983. pp. 96-99.
Williamson, Paul. The West Doorway of the Temple Church in London. Burlington Magazine. CXXVII, 1985. p. 716.
Thurlby, Malcolm. Review of the Catalogue of Ronamesque Sculpture. RACAR. XII/I. 1985. pp. 74-75.
Gardam, C. L. M. Restorations of the Temple Church, London. In: Grant, Lindy, ed. Medieval Art, Architectire and Archeology in London. The British Archeological Association Conference Transactions for the Year 1984. Leeds: Manley and Son, 1990. pp. 104-105.
Kahn, Deborah. La sculpture romane en Angleterre : etat des questions. Bulletin monumental. 146, 1988. p. 340. n. 195.
Zarnecki, George. The West Doorway of the Temple Church in London. In: Becksmann, Rüdiger, ed. Beiträge zur Kunst des Mittelalters : Festschrift für Hans Wentzel zum 60. Geburtstag. Berlin: Mann, 1975. pp. 245-253.
Bottoms, Edward. The Royal Architectural Museum in the Light of New Documentary Evidence. Journal of the History of Collections. vol. 19, no. 1, 2007. pp. 120, 135-136. note. 66.


Caen stone



Subjects depicted

Leaf (plant material)


Architectural fittings; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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