The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Alec Garrard

Added to museum: 5/7/09

Alec Garrard at work on his giant model of Herod's Temple. Photo: Geoff Robinson (Click on photo to view a larger image.)

NOTE: We have recently received word that Mr. Garrard passed away May 10, 2010 and that the model is no longer available for public viewing. At that time the family was making arrangements to find it a new home. For a time it was located in his daughter's book shop, but now we have learned that according to his daughter, Mr. Garrard’s final wishes were that his temple model would no longer be available for viewing after he passed away. The family is honoring those wishes.

Introduction

Few craftsmen have the initiative to take on a project that they know they will probably not be able to complete in their own lifetime. Not so for Alec Garrard. He has taken on the massive project of building a giant replica of the Temple of Herod at a scale of 1:100 in a shed on his property. The following story is based on an article in The Telegraph and photos by Geoff Robinson for that article are reproduced here with his permission.

English farmer builds giant model of ancient temple

Biblical history is a subject of interest to many, but few have devoted so much research, time and effort to bring the past alive as Alec Garrard of Norfolk, England. While still in his 40’s he became interested in the Temple of Herod, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, only six or seven years after the completion of the temple complex. (The temple itself was completed before Herod's death in 4 BC.) Alec spent three years doing research on the temple before beginning construction of the model in a shed on his farm.

He is quoted in the article in The Telegraph as saying, “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. 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. I’d seen one or two examples of it in Biblical exhibitions, but I thought they were rubbish and I knew I could do better. I have been working on it for decades, but it will never be finished, as I’m always finding something new to add.”

Indeed, at age 78 Mr. Garrard has already devoted over 33,000 hours to the construction of the 20' x 12' model, and despite the fact that it is already populated with over 4000 hand-made clay figures, he admits that it will take many thousands more before it will accurately represent the number of people that would typically have been present in the temple and surrounding area. Each clay figure is about ˝” tall, dressed in correct period costume and takes about 3-1/2 hours to make. Thirty-two versions of Jesus (so far) can be found in various parts of the model.

Each tile and column in the model is also individually made from clay and baked in his oven before painting and assembly. The tiles are applied over a plywood understructure for the buildings and then the bricks and tiles applied with glue.

The model is housed in a wooden shed on his property, and people from all over the world have come to see it. Alec provides visitors a pair of binoculars so they can closely examine the details. Historical experts believe it is the best representation now in existence as to what the ancient Jewish temple looked like when completed. He has worked directly with many of the archeologists who have studied the actual ruins. Though he has received several offers to buy the model he says it is not for sale.

All that actually remains of the actual temple in modern Jerusalem is the Western Wall or "Wailing Wall," so this model is one of our best guides to the magnificence of the original construction. For those who want to learn more, Mr. Gerrard has produced a book on the model called Splendor of the Temple—A Pictorial Guide to Herod’s Temple and its Ceremonies. The 96-page illustrated book was published by Kregel Publications in 2001 (ISBN: 0825426979, 9780825426971) and is available through Amazon.com and other booksellers. Also for those interested in this subject, another fine model of the temple can be seen at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A second model can be seen at the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem, as part of a model of ancient Jerusalem.

For those who wish to visit the museum in person, the address is Moat Farm, Fressingfield, Eye, Suffolk, IP21 5TB, England. (No longer there...See note at top of page.)

We applaud Alec Garrard’s single-minded devotion to this project and the uncompromising craftsmanship in its construction. We hope it will inspire others to follow their dream. Even though he is quoted as saying his wife Kathleen thinks he is mad and “wishes she had married a normal person,” Alec doesn’t let it bother him. Fortunately, he takes this commentary in stride with good humor and has not let it hinder his efforts to construct a model of truly biblical proportions.

Photos of Alec Garrard's work:

All photos by Geoff Robinson for The Telegraph and are reproduced with the photographer's permission. (Click any photo to view a larger image.)

Alec Garrard poses on the model that he has been working on for over three decades.
30,000 plus hours of construction have gone into the model so far.
The painted backdrop adds depth and realism to the model.
A wide-angle shot gives a look down into the temple.
Miniature visitors in the temple.
A view inside the royal porch.
The prayer court
A wide angle shot of the prayer court
Gentiles court
A lighted fire pit is modeled in the court
The piazza
The marketplace
The steps
A lamplighter ascends the giant Menorah.
A typical figure is only 1/2" tall and each takes several hours to make. He plans to add many more.
A group of figures. Jesus is represented 32 different times in the Temple.
A group of soldiers forms up in the courtyard.
The humble wooden shed that houses this magnificent model in Suffolk..

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