Now, here's a model of biblical proportions. A retired farmer has spent more than 30 years building an enormous scale model of Herod's temple - and it is still not finished. Alec Garrard, 78, has dedicated a massive 33,000 hours to constructing the ancient temple, which measures a whopping 20ft by 12 ft.The pensioner has hand-baked and painted every clay brick and tile and even sculpted 4,000 tiny human figures to populate the courtyards. But Mr. Garrard, who started the epic project in his 40s, says his masterpiece will not be finished in his lifetime. "I have an interest in buildings and religion. I thought maybe I could combine the two and came up with the idea of doing the temple. I'd see one or two examples of it in Biblical exhibitions, but I thought they were rubbish and I knew I could do better."
"I have sculpted and painted 4,000 figures, each measuring just half an inch and they all wear 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." Visitors come from all over the world to see the model, and Mr. Garrard provides binoculars so they can see all the details. "I personally know all the top archaeologists from Jerusalem and I've had experts from the British Museum visit," he says.
But he chases the money-changers out of the temple: I've had a lot of offers from people to buy it, but it's not for sale." He says his wife Kathleen thinks he is mad. He adds: "She wishes she'd married a normal person." 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, which is now housed in a huge building in his back garden. "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 says. In its heyday the temple complex covered 36 acres - four times the area of Windsor Castle. The Temple was probably located on the site of today's Temple Mount, and it is also the location of the Islamic mosque, Dome of the Rock.
[This was originally an email sent by a friend. It is such an incredible project that I had to share it. All photos in this post were taken by photographer, Geoff Robinsin, and included with his permission.]