Knights Templar: Temple Bruer

Temple Bruer

Temple Bruer Church and Buildings

Temple Bruer emerged in the middle of the vast Lincoln Heath, which spread out southwards from the city of Lincoln.  The heath sparsely populated, and during the Templar times, would have been desolate and forbidding.

The Order of the Knights Templar, were bequeathed the land by William of Ashby in the mid 12th century.  The Templar’s with their renowned vigour and enterprise built a great preceptor and established a productive estate.

As the Templar’s built their property, rumours spoke of a tunnel running under the heath, from the preceptor to the village of Wellingmore, some two miles away.  Templar properties were often associated with such clandestine features.

Temple Bruer Church Plan

Church Plan

The Temple Bruer estate would have been some 4,000 acres in size, featuring a round church, with a number of smaller buildings huddled around it, complete with a defensive wall and gatehouse.   The people living within would fall into four categories: Knights – Sergeants – Servants – Chaplains.

The village of Temple Bruer did not exist before the Templar’s arrived; it was built to house the workforce needed by the Order; labourers, builders along with their families, who would become the Templar’s tenants.  In 1259, the village was granted a charter to have its very own market.

The original Templar estate extended to the west, to an area known as Lincoln Cliff, where the knights typically exploited the climate and built a windmill.  They were in fact the first recorded users of windmills in Europe.

Ermine Street, the old Roman road, runs along the top of the cliff and would have been used by the Templar’s as they travelled up from London, and onto Lincoln and York.  It also follows the same route they would have taken to and from their training grounds at Byard’s Leap, which marks the southernmost limit of their property.

Lincolnshire Longwool Sheep

Lincolnshire Longwool Sheep

Temple Bruer made the change from arable farming to sheep farming, with the breeding of Lincolnshire Longwool sheep.  All wool produced on Templar farms in the immediate area, was collected at Temple Bruer, shipped in Templar vessels, from eastern ports, bound for the continent.  An extremely efficient system had been created, and Temple Bruer evolved into a wealthy preceptor in England.

Byard’s Leap, located to the south of Bruer’s estate, with sizeable stretches of level heath land, provided the Templar’s with tournament areas.  It was here they held war games… engaging forces would take part in simulated battles.

When the Knights Templar were dissolved, Temple Bruer passed to the Hospitaller’s who retained it until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, by King Henry VIII, who then sold the estate to the Duke of Suffolk.

Temple Bruer Tower

Temple Bruer Tower

Temple Bruer remains consist of a square, three-storey tower with a spiral staircase, constructed out of Lincolnshire oolitic limestone.  The tower underwent partial restoration in the early 20th century.  Interior walls consist of inscriptions, believed to be associated with the Templar’s.

(Image) Temple Bruer Church: Papa Donkey
(Image) Temple Bruer Tower: Papa Donkey
(Image) Temple Bruer Chauch Plan: Papa Donkey
(Image) Longwool Sheep: Wikipedia

 

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Knights Templar: Templecombe

Templecombe

The village of Templecombe according to the Domesday Book consisted of two estates:

  • Abbas Combe Manor: The Benedictine Nunnery of Shaftesbury, founded in 888 AD by Alfred the Great, whose second daughter Ethelgeda was its Abbess.
  • Abbas Combe included the 12th century St.Mary’s Church, which extended northwards, along the north-south route through the parish. The Abbey at Shaftesbury was its parent house, the major convent in England at the time.  Temple Combe included the Templar preceptory buildings, laying along the same route.  By the 1830’s the two settlements were linked by buildings along the main road.
  • Temple Combe Manor: This estate was originally held by the Earl Leofwine then passed to Bishop Odo of Bayeux and confiscated in 1088.
  • In 1185 the manor was held by Serlo Fitz Odo, who passed it to the Knights Templar. In 1307 the Templar Order was suppressed, and the estate passed to the Crown.  Templar lands and property passed to the Knights Hospitaller in 1332, and retained by them until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
  • Following the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” ordered by King Henry VIII, the Manor passed to William Sherrington, and later purchased by Richard Duke around 1563. Much of the Templar Preceptory building was demolished, providing stone for a new Manor house.

The Preceptory served as an administrative centre for Templar lands in the south-western parts of England and Cornwall.  History tells us, that men and horses were trained in the area, before heading off on Crusades in the Holy Land.

In 1338, an inventory was taken of the Manor, showing it consisted of 368 acres, used for supporting cattle and sheep.

By 1700, it had become the seat of Sir William Wogan, who sold it to Peter Walter of Stalbridge Park, and in the early part of the 19th century passed to the Marquess of Anglesey.

In 1942, during the Second World War, the Templecombe railway line was bombed, and on that day thirteen people lost their lives, and others were injured.  The Parish Church, Congregational Church, two hotels and sixty houses were damaged.

Wikipedia Image

Knights Templar: Sibford Gower

Sibford Gower Area Map

Map of Sibford Area

In ancient times, a track linked south-west Britain to the region of Lincoln and York, avoiding swamps and forests, along the ridge of high ground, to the Cotswolds.  Four miles to the south of Sibford, near Hook Norton, it divides into two branch lines.  One heads north-east, passing to the south of Sibford parishes, crossing Cherwell, near Banbury.  The other headed northwards, over Oatley Hill, through Traitor’s Ford, along the Oxfordshire – Warwickshire county border and Sibford Gower’s eastern boundary, and along Edgehill scarp.

The two Sibfords and Burdrop hamlet stood on hill tops, close to springs, which fed into the River Stour and then into the River Severn.  Early man had to defend themselves from wild animals, marauding tribes, which led to settlements on hill tops with barricades.

William the Conqueror, rewarded fellow knights with parcels of land, for their participation in the “Battle of Hasting” in 1066, where he seized the English crown.

Domesday Book

The Domesday Book

According to the Domesday Book:

  • Henry de Ferrieres, was given 1,000 acres at Sibford Ferris.
  • William, the son of Corbician was given 1,000 acres at Sibford Gower.
  • Hugh de Grantmesnil was also granted 1,000 acres at Sibford Gower.

Knights Templar Land & Property:

  • In 1136 Queen Matilda, gave them the Manor in Cowley, upon which they built a church and preceptor.
  • In 1142, they obtained the land of Hensington.
  • In 1153, they obtained the Manor of Sibford Ferris, and the Chapel of Sibford Gower.
  • In 1156, Simon, Earl of Northampton, gave them Merton.
  • In 1185, Alan de Limsey, gave them Bradwell Manor and Church.
  • Around 1225, William of Wheatfield granted them land in Sibford Gower, for they already held land in neighbouring Sibford Ferris.
  • In 1225, the Manor of Littlemore and Horsepath, came to them on a lease.
  • Around 1239-1240, the Manor of Sandford-on-Thames was given to them, upon which they established a preceptor.
  • In 1279, they became patrons of the Priory of Littlemore.

With the end of the Knights Templar by order of the Pope, many Templars were seized and put on trial.  Their lands, their wealth passed into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller.

With the “Dissolution of the Monasteries” in 1538, Sibford Gower Chapel, formerly a Knights Templar building, was stripped bare.

(Image) Sibford Gower area map: Banburyshire Maps
(Image) Domesday Book: National Archives