Knights Templar: Gothic Architecture

Gothic Cathadral - PI

Design of Gothic Cathedral

Gregorio Papareschi, was appointed to the post of Pope Innocent II, in the year 1130, supported to the Papal throne by Bernard of Clairvaux.

Pope Innocent II

Pope Innocent II

Following his appointment, to the Papal throne, Pope Innocent II, approved the request made by the Knights Templar, granting them the right, to build and run their own churches.  Overnight the Templar’s became answerable to only one person; the Pope, and out of reach of most authorities.  They could hold their own court, impose taxes, and no longer did the church hold any pressure over them.  They were their own men, and becoming a powerful order.

They planned and developed their own style of buildings, one which was French Gothic by design.  This new style was born in 1134.

The Templar’s mentor and spiritual leader; St.Bernard of Clairvaux, showed his flair, and his designs were used for the building of the north tower at Chartres Cathedral.

Gothic architecture dates back to the 12th century, it was to be an exciting time in Medieval European history, with the development of a new style of buildings.  Many a knight had served in the Holy Land, on the Crusades, and many had been influenced by the buildings and engineering styles used.

Gothic architecture evolved over a 300 year period, with bright and airy interiors, pointed arches to emphasize light and soaring spaces, ribbed vaulting, flying buttresses, tall spires and gargoyles.

The early forms of Gothic architecture was predominately used for the building of cathedrals, and later used in the building of castles, palaces and bridges.

Gothic architecture first emerged in northern France around 1140.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

The Gothic style of building was soon taken up by the English, and used in Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Gothic architecture in Medieval England was developed from Norman building styles, which related to buildings from 1200 – 1500.

Early English Style: 1200 – 1300

Decorated Style: 1300- 1400

Perpendicular Style: 1400 – 1500

Gothic churches and buildings were different to Normans, on their style and way of construction.

  • Stone blocks lined side by side was the choice of Normans, but Gothic buildings used many a shaped stone.
  • Hollow walls favoured by Normans, became solid under Gothic builds, thus they could handle far greater weight.
  • The use of pointed arches strengthened buildings, compared to Normans round arches.

Cathedral roofs were much larger, and buttresses were installed to take extra weight, alongside the nave and into the foundations.  These changes spread additional weight around the building, creating additional strength.

Wikipedia Images

Knights Templar: Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres), a medieval Catholic cathedral, constructed in a Gothic style.  It stands in all its glory, dominating the skyline of the medieval French town of Chartres, some eighty kilometres south of Paris.

According to legend, in the year 100 BC, a druid shrine and a sacred spring to a virgin mother stood here, and as such a Christian church was built.  Legend or no legend, the remains of a sacred well exist in the cathedral to this day.

Chartres converted to Christianity in the 4th century evangelization of Gaul.  A bishop was installed at Carnotum by the 5th century, as such Chartres church changed status, becoming a cathedral.  The church would have been built of wood, and as such highly vulnerable to fire.

The Duke of Aquitaine sacked the cathedral in 743, and it was destroyed by the Danes in 858.

By royal decree, Pepin’s 8th century court had named the town as; “Chartres.”  In response to the church being dedicated to the Virgin Mary and receiving the title: “Church of St.Mary.”

With the acquisition of the Sancta Camisa (The tunic worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ’s birth) in the latter years of the 9th century, Chartres therefore received divine protection.  In 911 Rollo the Viking leader besieged Chartres.  Had it not been for Bishop Gantelme, who called for the Sancta Camisa, to be brought before the Viking warriors, Chartres might have been destroyed, as it was the Vikings fled!  Rollo converted to Christianity and took the title; Duke of Normandy, of the Norsemen province, granted to him by King Charles III of France.

In the year 1020, Chartres Cathedral was burnt to the ground, on the eve of the “Festival of the Nativity of the Virgin.”  Bishop Fulbert took on the challenge to oversee the construction of a new cathedral.  Fulbert used his personal income to finance the new build, and received further funds from King Robert II, Dukes of Aquitaine and Normandy along with the Count of Chartres – Blois.

The architect was Beranger, who expanded remnants of the former crypt, creating a vaulted crypt built in the Romanesque style.

Bishop Fulbert died in 1028, before the completion of Chartres Cathedral in 1037, when it was consecrated by Bishop Thierry, Fulbert’s successor.

Fire over the year’s played its part leading to re-construction and changes in design.  In 1134 the Cathedral’s west end was damaged by fire, re-built in 1137 using the Romanesque  style.

On the 10th June 1194, flames engulfed the Cathedral.  The Sancta Camisa (Sacred Tunic) had been saved by two priests who entered the burning building, and took the relic down into the crypt for safety.

History tells us that nine knights discovered the Nasorean Scrolls, revealing a treasure far beyond their wildest dreams.  Yet it was a treasure that they could not or would not share with the world.

Stone Mason

Stone Mason

One of the roles of the Knights Templar; they were Master Stonemasons.  They designed and built formidable castles, chapels and cathedrals across Europe.  They introduced holy geometry into building of Gothic masterpieces such as Chartres Cathedral in France.

In many Gothic Cathedrals across Europe, one would find the names of master builders responsible for construction and design of these awesome projects.  They would cut their names into floors or walls, for they wanted future generations to know who they were.

When we stand back and look at the magnificent Chartres Gothic Cathedral, with its exquisite carvings standing proud for all to see and admire such works… one has to ask who these architects and builders were.

A mystery evolves before our very eyes:

Bas-Relief of the Ark

Knights Templar: Bas-Relief depicting the Ark

The Knights Templar sought the “Ark of the Covenant” (The Ark of the Covenant has to be one of the most important religious artefacts.  A wooden box overlaid with gold, containing the stone tablets, inscribed with the Ten Commandments), which was buried under Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.  Cut into the stone of Chartres Cathedral is a Bas-Relief depicting the “Ark.”

French architect; Louis Charpentier claims that the Knights Templar built Chartres Cathedral as a repository for ancient wisdom.

The Templar’s were men of God, and as such they wouldn’t want their names cut into the stone of Chartres.

Chartres Cathedral a gothic styled building, emerging in 12th century France, a style which flourished in the latter part of the medieval period.  Gothic buildings contained pointed arches, large windows, clustered columns and soaring spires.  The main gothic portion of Chartres was built between (1194-1220).

Chartres Cathedral Interior

INTERNAL  As one enters the Cathedral, what catches your eyes first has to be the Nave; measuring 16.4 metres wide and 44 metres long.  The Nave is illuminated by two tiers of windows on either side, and by the Rose window of the western facade.  One can’t help but notice an unbroken view from the western end to the magnificent dome of the apse in the east.  Clustered columns rise to the high pointed arches of the ceiling, directing one’s view in the direction of the Clerestory windows in the apse.

The North Transept Portals illustrates the Old Testament and the Virgin Mary as precursors and preparations for Christ.  Themes about the glorification of Mary in the centre, with the incarnation of her son on the left and Old Testament prophecies on the right.

The Northern Portals tell about the time leading up to Christ’s incarnation and the west facade is about the events of his life and Passion.

The South Transept Portals address the time from Christ’s death until his Second Coming.  The central portal concentrates on the Last Judgement and the Apostles, the left portal on the lives of martyrs and the right on confessor saints.

Chartres - Choir Screen

Choir Screen

At the east end, an ambulatory wraps around the choir and sanctuary, vaulted and divided from the latter by a carved choir screen.  Erected in 16th century with sculptures added between 16th – 18th centuries.  The choir contains 200 sculptures in 41 scenes, depicting the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth

The Labyrinth

The stone floor bears an ancient Labyrinth used by monks in time of contemplation.

One of the most distinctive features of Chartres Cathedral has to be the 176 stained glass windows:

Chartres - Rose Window

One of Three Rose Windows

The West Rose Window dates from the 13th century and its three lancet windows from 1150.  The rose window depicts the Last Judgement; Christ in Judgement surrounded by Four Evangelists and angels, with scenes of angels blowing trumpets, resurrection, judgement, heaven and hell.  The left lancet is the Passion and Resurrection Window; the middle lancet is the Incarnation Window; and the right lancet is the Jesse Window.

The North Rose Window and its five lancet windows were a gift from Queen Blanche of Castille in 1230.  The rose windows depicts the Glorification of the Virgin: Virgin and Child surrounded by doves and angels, then Old Testament Kings and Prophets.  Lancets from left to right: Melchizadek and King Saul, King David and Jeroboam, St.Anne and the infant Mary with the arms of the Royal House of France; King Solomon and Nebuchadezzar, Aaron and Pharaoh.

The South Rose Window and its five lancet windows date from the 1230’s.  The rose window depicts the Glorification of Christ; Christ blessing surrounded by Four Evangelists and angels, then the elders of the Apocalypse, the arms of Cathedral donors.  Lancets from left to right: Evangelist Luke over Prophet Jeremiah, Evangelist Mathew over Prophet Isaiah, Virgin and Child, Evangelist John over Prophet Ezekiel, Evangelist Mark over Prophet Daniel.

EXTERNAL  Chartres Cathedral, built from limestone is noticeable by its mis-matched western spires.  One is 105 metres and of Romanesque design and built in the 12th century, whilst the other is 113 metres high and built in the 16th century of gothic design.

This fine looking Gothic Cathedral, built in the cruciform style, with a long nave and short transepts to the north and south.  The east end is rounded, and has five semi-circular chapels connected to it.  The external measurements: 37 metres high, 130 metres long and 32-46 metres wide.

The high Nave is supported by double flying buttresses, anchored by colonnettes.  An extra row of single flying buttresses supported the apse at time of construction and a third row was added in the 14th century.

Friezes on the Capitals left to the central door depict scenes from the life of Mary.  The capitals on the left of the central portal depict Anne and Joachim struggling with infertility before the birth of Mary.  Right of the central door are friezes of scenes from the life of Christ.

The left-hand portal centres on the Ascension of Christ.  Christ stands on a cloud, supported by two angels.  Below this is a relief with four singing angels and the bottom lintel shows ten seated men holding scrolls and looking at Christ.  The archivolts are decorated with symbols of the zodiac and the labours of the months.

The right-hand portal, the tympanum bears scenes from the descent of Christ into the world, complemented by the Ascension on the other side.  The bottom register shows scenes from the life of the Virgin including the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity and Annunciation to the shepherds.  In the middle register is the Presentation at the Temple.  In the upper level is the Virgin and Child enthroned between two censing angels.  The inner archivolt contains angels whilst the outer depicts seven liberal Arts and Zodiac signs; Pisces and Gemini.

Chartres Cathedral - West Front

West Front

The cathedral has three great facades, each equipped with three portals which open into the nave from the west and into transepts from north and south.

The sculptures on the west facade depict Christ’s ascension into heaven, his life saints and apostles.  Christ in the lap of Mary plus other scenes.  Below the religious figures are statues of Kings and Queens.

Reference Sources:
Universe of Stone by Philip Ball
The Sword and the Grail by Andrew Sinclair
Secret of the Knights Templar by S.J.Hodge
Encyclopedia of Angels by R.E.Guiley
The Hiram Key by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas

Wikipedia Images

St.Mary’s Church – Fordingbridge

st-marys-church-fordingbridge

St.Mary’s Church – Fordingbridge

In the quaint village of Fordingbridge in Hampshire, sits St.Mary’s Church, built in the latter part of the 12th century, out of ironstone and flint, sitting upon a former Saxon building.

The building, once the property of the Templar knights, dressed in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, highly skilled warriors for God.  With the arrest of their Grand Master; James de Molay, the order was disbanded by the Pope.  Much of their property, past into Hospitaller’s hands, including St.Mary’s Church.

In the early years of the 13th century, the church underwent some major building works, starting with the addition of two aisles to enlarge the nave, followed up with a chapel.

st-marys-church-fordingbridge-tower

Fordingbridge Tower

In the 14th century, the church received its finishing touches; north and south porches were added, with a tower giving it that elegant feel, built of ashlar blocks.  The tower holds eight bells, dating back to 1654.

A fragment of the initial church build, can be observed over the door, leading to the choir vestry; an ox head carving.  A 14th century piscine is located in the east wall of the south aisle, under a trefoil canopy.

font-fordingbridge-church

Fordingbridge Font

The church contains a Purbeck 14th century marble font, decorated with two trefoil panels, standing upon a circular stem.

The 13th century chapel has a 15th century hammer-beam roof, decorated with carved roof bosses, including a Tudor Rose and Green Man.  At the end sections of the hammer-beam roof, one can find carved figures holding heraldic shields, complimented with various symbols, including a mitre and crown.

The Chancel Arch is of 13th century, and come the 16th century a brass dedicated to the Bulkley family dated 1568 was fitted. It showed a man and wife kneeling at prayer desks with three sons and five daughters.

Situated above the north door; a wooden coat of arms of King George I.

The tomb of Captain James Seton can be found in the churchyard, the last man to be killed in a duel on English soil.

A reredos was installed in 1820 and the organ in 1887.

(Image) St.Mary’s Church: British Listed Buildings
(Images) Church Tower & Font: Wikipedia

The Holy Grail Mystery

last-supper

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

What is the Holy Grail?  The cup or vessel used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper, and possibly the vessel which captured his blood, as he hung upon the cross.  What a mystery, that is some two-thousand years old, which has fascinated; archaeologists, knights Templar, historian and treasure hunters seeking the hiding place of the Holy Grail.

The history of the Holy Grail, the cup associated with Jesus Christ, takes us back to the Kingdom of Judea.  Historical excavations over the centuries, puts forward, Galilee, homeland of the Messiah, was of predominately Jewish descendants.

holy-grail

The Holy Grail

Jesus is crucified at Calvary, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and Joseph of Arimathea, used the vessel, which we understand to be the Holy Grail to collect the blood of Jesus.

Following the crucifixion, Pontius Pilate granted Joseph’s request to entomb the body in a nearby cave… The tomb is called the Holy Sepulchre, a site visited by many pilgrims.

When the body of Jesus rose from the dead, many at that time believed Joseph had stolen the body.

Joseph was thrown into prison along with the Holy Grail, by order of the Jewish authorities who believed he had moved the body, and remained there for forty-two years until released by Emperor Vespasian.

Joseph of Arimathea travelled to Glastonbury, England where he planted the Holy Grail, and marked it by a staff, from which grew the Glastonbury Thorn.

Around 1140, William of Malmesbury, a monk and historian from Malmesbury Abbey, wrote of Joseph of Arimathea, who brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury.

glastonbury-abbey

Glastonbury Abbey

In 1539, Glastonbury Abbey is destroyed during the “Dissolution of the Monasteries,” during the reign of King Henry VIII.

History tells us, the Holy Grail was taken by Monks of the Abbey, as they fled, seeking safety.

So where is the Holy Grail?  A question which has remained unanswered for many a year…

If the Knights Templar had in their possession the Holy Grail, this would have been considered a priceless treasure, which would require a secure hiding place.

Apprentice Pillar

Apprentice Pillar

Rosslyn Chapel has often been cited as the resting place of the Holy Grail.  It is believed the Apprentice Pillar had been constructed with a hollow section, to hide the Holy Grail within.

Other Rosslyn Chapel hiding places includes the vaults below the chapel, where it is said the Templar Knights dressed in their armour surrounded by their treasure, lie for all eternity.

Located upon the wall of Rosslyn Chapel, is a gargoyle depicting a Templar Knight holding what is believed to be the Holy Grail… one has to ask, is the true Holy Grail hidden within.

If one walks round Rosslyn Chapel and observes the intricate stonework upon the interior walls, it is possible the Holy Grail could be placed in plain view, but no amount of searching would reveal it.

In 1546, Mary of Guise (Mother to Mary Queen of Scots) wrote to Lord William Sinclair referring to a great secret hidden within the walls of Rosslyn Chapel.  What she was referring to, died with her… Was she referring to the Holy Grail.

If we believe the history surrounding the Holy Grail, that Joseph of Arimathea brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury, then the fact that it was in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem during the ninth century, brings doubt into the equation.

Furthermore, suggestions that the Knights Templar removed it from Jerusalem must be false, unless there be many Holy Grails doing the rounds…

Other so-called Holy Grails: READ MORE

(Images) The Last Supper: Leonardo da Vinci
(Images) Glastonbury Abbey – Holy Grail – Apprentice Pillar:Wikimedia

Knights Templar: Temple Church – London

Middle Temple Church

Temple Church – London

King Henry II, gifted land close to the River Thames to the Order of the Knights Templar, to build their spiritual headquarters.  Located in the heart of the city, in a secluded area consisting of buildings, courtyards and parks, with engraved tombstones, dedicated to the dead.

Its early design of 1185, was to replicate the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, upon which Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead.

New recruits to the order, entered by way of the west door at dawn, and the door locked behind them, their old life gone forever.

temple-church-tombs

They would pass between statues upon the floor, before taking their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  Once accepted by the order, they would be knights and servants to the Templars, to God, for the duration of their life.

temple-church-entrance

West Door Entrance

The West door, the original entrance to the church, with its porch decorated with images of the Green Man, along with other esoteric symbols.

temple-church-interior-1

As you entered, you were welcomed by free standing Purbeck Columns, above them the curved gothic arches, rising up to the drum.

temple-church-facing-chancel

Facing the Chancel

A chancel running to the east, along which the Patriach’s procession would come to rest; for Mass.  There an altar stood in all its glory.

On the south side of the building, a courtyard dedicated to the Knights Templar.  Two knights riding on one horse, an image much associated with the order.

The circular nave was built in 1185, and consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem; Heraclius in 1185.

The porch was added in 1195, the Chapel of St.Anne along with the Crypt in 1220, and Chancel in 1240, consecrated on Ascension Day 1240, in the presence of the King.

At the west end of the chancel, images displayed; King Stephen, King Henry II, King Richard I, and King John.  The windows at the east end of the south aisle depict King Henry II.  The towers east window depicts; Mark as a lion, Luke as an ox and John as an eagle.

Located within the church, are the effigies of leading Knights Templar’s:

William Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke, who died in 1219, and was adviser to King John and acted as Regent to Henry III, along with his two sons.

These figures are frozen in stone, in defence of their father.  To be buried in this way, was as if one had been buried in Jerusalem.  Many others lie in the church, including Geoffrey de Mandeville and William de Ros.

Chambers located below ground, housed their wealth, which also held those of Kings and Queens, even our own Crown Jewels.

The Templars created a financial role in England, the beginning of a hub, which would last for centuries.  Black and white squares, depicted a visual key indicating the movement of finances.

The Templars had close relationships with the English crown, which led to their participation, in historical events.  The murder of Thomas Becket, the Knights who committed the act, paid penance in the Holy Land, and their King paid penance to Thomas Becket and the sword was displayed in Temple Church.

In 1381, rebels stormed the building, during the Peasants Revolt, seeking out Sir Robert Hales, Master of the Hospitaller’s, they caught up with him at the Tower of London, hacked off his head, and spiked it on Westminster Bridge.

It became home to two colleges of lawyers: referred to as Inner and Middle Temple.

In 1540 King Henry VIII abolished the Order of the Hospitallers, confiscated their property, and in later years gave it to the Master of the Temple.

In 1585, Richard Alvey, Master of the Temple died.  His natural successor Walter Travers, was passed over and Richard Hooker was appointed, from Exeter College, Oxford by order of Queen Elizabeth I.

Richard Hooker preached on Sunday mornings, and Walter Towers contradicted his sermon in the afternoon.

In 1666, Temple Church survived the Great Fire of London, yet was re-designed by Christopher Wren, with additions of buttresses and battlements in 1682.

An organ was introduced, but this was to prove much controversary between the two Inns.  Each wanting a different organ, the final decision was made by Judge Jeffrey’s the then Lord Chancellor.  The Father Smith organ was installed, and each Inn appointed their own organist, each playing on alternate Sundays… Honour had been satisfied and peace flowed.  The organ remained in use, until its destruction during the Second World War.

Come the end of the 16th century, the two Inns had built many additional builds, yet they were nothing more than tenants.  They petitioned King James I and on the 13th August 1608, they were granted a Royal Charter, use of the Temple indefinitely.

In 1841, walls and ceilings were decorated in a Victorian gothic style.

On the 10th May 1941, an incendiary bomb destroyed some of the building and alterations that had been built over the last six hundred years.  Restoration started in 1954 and rededicated in 1958.

Images: Wikipedia

 

Knights Templar: Royston Cave

royston-cave

Royston Cave

Royston, a quiet English market town in rural Herfordshire.  Who would expect to find a cave, with wall’s bearing carvings of saints, knights, monks, crucifixion scenes with links to the Knight Templar recorded here, some 25 feet below ground level.

Royston Cave extends some 30 feet beneath the town centre, cut out of chalk.  It consists of a lower cylindrical section measuring 17 feet x 10 feet with a raised platform.  The shape and design of the cave, is believed to have been modelled on the “Church of the Holy Sepulchre” in Jerusalem.

It is a bell or bottle shaped design, measuring 17 feet in diameter and 27 feet in height.

One of the carving’s refer to St.Katherine, for it was on that saints day; 25th November 1177, that they had been victorious in battle against the Saracen leader, Saladin.

It is believed the cave was one of many secret meeting places across England, for the outlawed Knights Templar in the 14th century.  Some years later, the entrance was sealed, and would remain so until August of 1742, when it was discovered by workmen.

royston-cave-st-george

St.George

History of the Knight Templar, informs us that St.George was present at the “Battle of Ramleh,” and rode alongside the dying King of Jerusalem.

royston-chapel-jesus-disciples

Jesus and his disciples

The sword points to figures, believed to be Jesus and his disciples, with Judas pushed into the background.

royston-cave-grand-master-burning

Jacques de Molay – Burnt at Stake

Royston Cave carvings include, Knights Templar Grand Master; Jacques de Molay being burnt at the stake in 1314, on trumped up charges of heresy.

martyrdom-images

Martyrdom Image

Images: Wikipedia

 

Rosabelle by Sir Walter Scott

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel

 O LISTEN, listen, ladies gay
No haughty feat of arms I tell;
Soft is the note and sad the lay
That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.

“Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!
And, gentle ladye, deign to stay!
Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,
Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.

“The blackening wave is edged with white;
To inch and rock the sea-mews fly;
The fishers have heard the water-sprite,
Whose screams forbode that wreck is nigh.

“Last night the gifted Seer did view
A wet shroud swathed round ladye gay;
Then stay thee, Fair, in Ravensheuch;
Why cross the gloomy firth to-day?”

“Tis not because Lord Lindesay’s heir
To-night at Roslin leads the ball,
But that my ladye-mother there
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.

“Tis not because the ring they ride,
And Lindesay at the ring rides well,
But that my sire the wine will chide
If ’tis not fill’d by Rosabelle.”

O’er Roslin all that dreary night
A wonderous blaze was seen to gleam;
‘Twas broader that the watch-fire’s light,
And redder than the bright moonbeam.

Roslin Castle

Roslin Castle

It glared on Roslin’s castled rock,
It ruddied all the copsewood glen;
‘Twas seen from Dryden’s groves of oak,
And seen from cavern’d Hawthornden.

Seem’d all on fire that chapel proud
Where Roslin’s chiefs uncoffin’d lie,
Each baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheath’d in his iron panoply.

Knights Templar Tombs

Knights Vault

Seem’d all on fire within, around,
Deep sacristy and altar’s pale;
Shone every pillar foliage-bound,
And glimmer’d all the dead men’s mail.

Blazed embattlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair–
So still they blaze, when fate is nigh
The lordly line of high Saint Clair.

There are twenty of Roslin’s barons bold
Lie buried within that proud chapelle;
Each one the holy vault doth hold–
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle.

And each Saint Clair was buried there,
With candle, with book, and with knell;
But the sea-caves rung and the wild wind sung
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.

Dedicated to the Roslin’s and Rosslyn Chapel