Farmer spends 30 years on model Biblical Temple
Sunday, 19 April 2009

Brick by brick, tiny figure by tiny figure, Alec Garrard has painstakingly worked for 30 years on an astonishing recreation of Herod's Temple.

But despite spending all that time and effort the retired farmer believes he won't finish it in his lifetime as he keeps finding things to add to it.
In contrast, legend has it that the original construction of the entire complex lasted only three years, although historians believe it took far longer.

It was his fascination for religion and buildings which first started Alec on the Biblical project which now measures 20ft by 12ft and is housed in a seperate building in his garden.

His version is so impressive that some of the world's top archaeologists and experts from the British Museum have come to view it.

'It's now recognised as the most authentic version of the temple in the world,' he said. 'I've had a lot of offers from people to buy it, but it's not for sale.'

And while he sees it as a form of relaxation, he says his wife thinks he is mad.

'She wishes she'd married a normal person,' he said.

The original temple was built in 19BC by King Herod the Great but was flattened in AD70 by Roman troops under Emperor Titus during the Siege of Jerusalem, just six years after completion.

In its heyday the complex covered 36 acres - four times the area of Windsor Castle.

Today, all that remains of the temple is the Western Wall or so-called Wailing Wall. The temple itself was located on the site of the Islamic shrine the Dome of the Rock.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the temple had just been rebuilt and it was in an area known as Solomon's Porch that he argued with rabbis, amazing them with his questions and answers.

Herod, keen to perpetuate his name through building projects, ensured that the temple dominated the Jerusalem landscape, effectively becoming its focal point.

"I have been working on it for decades but it will never be finished as I'm always finding something new to add,' he said.

'I've always loved making models and as I was getting older I started to think about making one big project which would see me through to the end of my life.
Mr Garrard said he had seen one or two models of the temple and thought he could do better so began building one himself.

'I have an interest in buildings and religion so I thought maybe I could combine the two and I came up with the idea of doing the temple,' he said.

The original temple featured the Court of the Priests, where the animals were prepared for sacrifice, the Golden Vine at the entrance to the Temple and the Eastern Gate.

Since the day the temple was destroyed scholars have argued over the detail of its construction.

Mr Garrard, from Norfolk, spent more than three years researching the temple, which was destroyed by the Romans 2,000 years ago and deemed to be one of the most remarkable buildings of ancient times.

He then started to construct the amazing 1:100 scale model.

'Everything is made by hand. I cut plywood frames for the walls and buildings and all the clay bricks and tiles were baked in the oven then stuck together,' he said.

As well as having religious services, the temple had a bazaar, people selling souvenirs, as well as currency changers, exchanging Roman for Jewish money, as mentioned in the New Testament account of Jesus and the money changers.

'I have also sculpted and painted 4,000 figures, measuring just half an inch and all wearing their correct costumes.
'Each one takes about three hours to make and there are 32 versions of Jesus, although no one can ever spot him no matter how religious they are.'

Mr Garrard still spends hours working on the model every day.

'I look upon it as a work of art, there is lots of detail and I want it to look as real as possible,' he said.

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