I’ve always been a bit of a movie buff and I’m unashamedly a fan of Dan Browns book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the film by the same name, directed by Ron Howard. So, when Andrew and I got the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland and stay in a friends AirBnB, I vaguely remembered that Rosslyn Chapel, featured in the book and film, was located a short distance from Edinburgh.
Rosslyn Chapel, Roslin
With a little help from Google Maps, we found the location of the chapel and coincidentally found that there was a local bus that left from right outside our accommodation that went to the town of Roslin some 19kms away. With a little further investigation, we discovered there were six free talks about the chapel conducted throughout the day. So, we set off early one morning aboard the local bus timing our arrival at the chapel for just after opening and in time for the first talk of the day.
To my horror on our arrival we discovered that there are to be ‘NO Photos’ taken in the Chapel! I’ve never really understood this type of policy other than to encourage you to purchase postcards or books from the strategically placed gift shop as you exit the building. Anyway, I digress!
We entered the chapel a little after 9.30am in time for the talk which started at 10am. We were awe struck at the beauty of the chapel and surprised at the size, being relatively small. The chapel is over 550 years old with a fascinating history and was almost beyond repair until the movie was filmed there. There were only half a dozen other tourists in the chapel as well as one warden that was happy to chat and answer questions. In the back of my mind I couldn’t help but be slightly annoyed that photos couldn’t be taken but decided I’d pretend I didn’t see the sign at the entrance. When the warden was talking to some of the visitors, I hid behind one of the numerous columns in the chapel and started snapping away like there was no tomorrow. We both continued to do this at any opportunity that the warden was distracted. It wasn’t until a portly middle-aged woman (aka’ Head Warden Betty’) entered by one of the chapels side doors that I got sprung sneaking a few photos. I was sternly reminded ‘Sir, there is a no photos policy, in the chapel. Take all the photos you like, but outside ONLY!’ That put me back in my place!
This warden then gathered the few people within the chapel to the pews in readiness for her talk. Just as she began, her walkie talkie, attached to her large belt, crackled and squawked, ‘Betty, do you copy?’ Betty dutifully responded ‘Copy.’ The voice at the other end bellowed, ‘Betty, the tour bus has just arrived, sending them across now.’ Looking somewhat flustered Betty announced that our talk would be slightly delayed until the people from the tour bus could join us. Approximately twenty people filed into the chapel and we were underway with Betty’s talk. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much from Betty but to my surprise she was quite passionate about the history of the chapel and its different styles of architecture. It was when she started to mention the on-site filming of The Da Vinci Code that most peoples ears pricked up and paid attention.
After about forty minutes of talking we were invited to explore the chapel and if we had any questions, Warden Betty was most happy to answer them, if she could. A number of the tour bus people mobbed Betty with a flurry of questions which gave me the perfect opportunity to sneak quite a few more photos, some of which you can see here. I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Rosslyn Chapel, even if you aren’t a Da Vinci Code fan, as it truly a beautiful building. https://www.rosslynchapel.com/visit/
This however was only the start of us Following the Code.
The Temple Church, London
A few weeks later, in early January, we were in London again having spent a few days there before Christmas taking in all the fantastic Christmas decorations throughout the city. It had been suggested by one of our friends that it would be good to visit the ‘Temple Church’ which is located between Fleet Street and the River Thames, built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. Something triggered a memory again about this church being mentioned in Dan Brown’s book. Once again, with the help of Google, I discovered it was indeed mentioned in the book as well as being one of the filming locations for the movie. A very plain building from outside, the interior was quite a surprise. Beautiful stained-glass windows filled the church with shards of coloured light and the sandstone and timber work is true craftsmanship from another time. It was consecrated on 10 February 1185. A very friendly warden greeted us on our arrival but this time we were told to take as many photos as we liked. I quite happily took out my iPhone and snapped away. The history of this place is so interesting and it was an important location of the formulation of the Magna Carta. Further information about its historical importance can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Church
There is no mention at all about the filming of the Da Vinci Code within the church but a quite significant scene of the movie was filmed there. I guess with all its actual history there is no need to include information about a fictional story. During our visit we were lucky to hear the magnificent organ being played by one of the current organists. The church’s longest serving organist was Sir George Thalben Ball who played here between 1925 until 1987 – an incredible 62 years. If you are into the history of the “Knights Templar’ this church is definitely a must visit place when in London.
The Louvre, Paris
With still more time to be had in London after our Switzerland house, we headed to Paris for five days. Andrew had not been to Paris before so I was keen for him to see the as many sights as we could in our five days. Of course, the Louvre was at the top of the list. Not only for his magnificent art collection but the buildings that make up the complex are as amazing as they were controversial when they were built. It was in the Louvre that the opening scene of the Da Vinci Code film started, and finished, so it was fitting that we start our time in Paris at this location. The Louvre would have to be one, if not the most amazing collections of art in the world. A definite must see when visiting Paris. One can easily fill a couple of days taking in all the art collections on display here. Our Da Vinci Code trail continues on our return to London in a few weeks.
Westminster Abbey, London
With still a week or so left of our time in London we decided to take a tour of Westminster Abbey. Having been to London a few times now it was just one of those places we often walked past but had never actually been inside. We booked our tickets and time slot online from their website https://tickets.westminster-abbey.org/wa.ticketing/Home/Index so we were good to go.
On arrival at the Abbey we paid an extra five pounds to take a ninety-minute tour with one of the vergers. We would thoroughly recommend anyone who visits the Abbey to take this tour as it is very informative.
During the tour we were standing by the quire (Choir) screen in the nave listening to the verger (who was very amusing) and I looked up to discover the monument to Sir Isaac Newton before me, in an area known as Scientists Corner. Newton rests in the company of Charles Darwin and explorer David Livingstone. For those of you who are Da Vinci Code fans, you will know that the character Robert Langdon is led to Westminster Abbey to solve the clue ‘A knight interred by A Pope’. There is a stained-glass window near the tomb of Sir Isaac Newton that celebrates the life of poet Alexander Pope (A Pope). I had remembered this particular scene in the film but had forgotten that the location was exactly where I was standing in the Abbey. To be totally honest, this actual scene was recreated at another Abbey as permission is never granted for filming in Westminster Abbey for commercial purposes, being reserved for televised events such as Royal Weddings or funerals.
Westminster Abbey is such a mind-blowing structure and is steeped in so much history. It is like walking through a time machine as you come across tombs and memorial headstones of famous people throughout history. And thus concluded our Da Vinci Code Trail – or so I thought. A few days later we travelled by train to the city of York in Northern England to start our road trip heading south to Bath via Stratford Upon Avon. We had booked an Airbnb for our accommodation in Stratford. On our arrival the host showed us to our room and advised us that there was an issue with the cable TV but they had a huge library of DVDs we were welcome to watch. I opened the cupboard where the DVDs were stored and there, on top of the pile was none other than The Da Vinci Code!
After a lovely dinner in downtown Stratford we settled in for a nights viewing of “The Da Vinci Code”, reliving the numerous places we had visited in the preceding months.After a lovely dinner in downtown Stratford we settled in for a nights viewing of “The Da Vinci Code”, re-living the numerous places we had visited in the preceding months.