Knights Templar: St.Mary’s Church – Templecombe

St.Marys Church Templecombe

St.Mary’s Church – Templecombe

The 12th century St.Mary’s Church was part of the Abbas Combe Manor along with the Benedictine Nunnery of Shaftesbury, founded in 888 AD by Alfred the Great, whose second daughter Ethelgeda was its Abbess.

The stone church of St.Mary’s in Templecombe, dressed with Hamstone and a roof consisting of 500 year old clay tiles.  It contains a two-bay chancel with northern chapel and vestries.  A four bay nave with a northern aisle, a south chapel, a southern tower over the porch, and south transept.

St.Marys Church Nave Templecombe

Church Interior

Located at the churches southern end stands a two-stage 13th century tower, which stands upon Saxon foundations.  In the 15th century, when upper sections of the tower were re-built, buttresses were added.

The Church Bells:  The oldest bell dates back to 1420, and cast by the Salisbury foundry.  Two further bells were added in 1656, cast by Robert Purdue, and in 1736 two donated by Thomas Bilbie, with the last bell in 1891, making a peel of six bells.  What a wondrous sound to behold.

The church contains a 12th century Purbeck Marble Font, with a 19th century cover.

The Church plate includes a cup and cover dating back to 1628, two square salvers of 1725 by Anthony Nelson, and a flagon of 1845.

In 1721 a west gallery was added, renovated in 1846, and removed in 1864.

In 1834 the north aisle was added.  In 1864, the chancel was rebuilt, vestries added, new windows installed in the nave and south chapel.

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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

The Templecombe Painting

St.Veronica's Veil

The head portrayed in the Templecombe painting is similar to the Shroud of Turin.  The cloth which carries an imprint of a man’s body; used to wrap the crucified body of Jesus Christ for burial.

It is believed the Templars came by it in 1204, when Crusaders captured Constantinople and ransacked it.

This relic called the “Mandylion” was held at Constantinople around 1000 AD.

Veronica, was the saint during Jesus Christ’s journey towards his crucifixion, who offered him her veil to wipe his face.  His likeness remained imprinted on the cloth for all time, and she took it to Rome.

It is believed the Knights Templar, copied the head image from the Shroud of Turin, which we know as the Mandylion.  Carbon-dating tests carried out on the painting, put the age around 1280 AD.

Some historians question its validity, and believe it be a copy of the Mandylion of the Eastern Orthodox Church, an important relic of Christendom.  The Mandylion is believed to be the cloth, bearing the image of Jesus Christ, when he was alive.

Knights Templar: Templecombe Head

Templecombe Head

Templecombe Head – Panel Painting

Just by chance, Molly Drew discovered a hidden treasure in 1945.  The painted face of a man looked down upon her, where the ceiling plaster of her cottage outhouse had fallen down.  This face had not seen the light of day, for some six hundred years or more.

This image became known as the “Templecombe Head,” a face amidst red, blue and green paint, faintly visible, painted on wooden panels, and supported by wire.

Bishop Wright the local Rector, removed the painting for cleaning and restoration.  In 1956 the painting was presented to St.Mary’s Church in Templecombe.

The image is that of a bearded man, either Jesus Christ or John the Baptist.  The style and detail of the painting are of a devotional style, but lacks signs of divinity; a halo or description.

How it came to be there, is anyone’s guess, but the area was the home of the Knights Templar.  With large scale arrests taking place and properties being searched.  Someone wanted to hide this simple painting, with the hope of retrieving it later… but that was not to be.

With the suppression of the Knights Templar, their lands and property fell into the hands of the Knights Hospitaller, who in turn lost it, when they backed the Pope not Henry VIII during England’s Tudor reign.

Structure of the Knights Templar

knights-templar-2a

One of the interesting features of the Templar’s was their emphasis on discretion.  From their founding to liquidation, they never compromised on their need for secrecy.  If they were truly devoted to the Catholic Church, there was no need for secrecy, as all of Europe came under the sovereignty of the Papacy.

If they were merely following the true Christian teaching, then they had nothing to hide, and no need for secrecy.

Then why did they adopt secrecy as a fundamental principle of the order, unless they were engaged in activities which were alien to the beliefs of the Church?

Discipline within the order, was based on a chain of command.  If anything be commanded by a Master, it should be done without question, as if it were a command from God.

The Templar’s were not allowed personal possessions, and all property belonged to the order, upon their acceptance as a member of the order.  They had their own dress code; a white mantle emblazoned with a red cross, over their armour.  The symbol of the Red Cross was assigned to the order by Pope Eugene III, he who had been tutored by St.Bernard of Clairvaux.

Three classes of Templars existed: Knights – Warriors – Servants

  • Marriage was prohibited.
  • Correspondence with relatives forbidden.
  • No private life.

According to the Knights Templar seal, it depicts two knights on a single horse.  They travelled in pairs, sharing everything even to the point of eating from the same bowl, and addressed each other as “my brother.”

On one hand they were there to offer protection to pilgrims in the Holy Land, and some of their number, learnt much from the Jews and Arabs; sciences of geometry and mathematics, which can be seen in their buildings.  They learnt about navigation and were given maps enabling them to navigate European and African coastlines.

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

Legendary Warriors of Jaffa

King Richard and Saladin

King Richard I and Saladin

Richard, lost his mount
savagely cut down in battle,
fell from underneath him
forced to fight, on foot.

Saladin impressed by Richard
gave the mighty English King,
stallion from his own stable
for kings do not fight, on foot.

Richard and Saladin meet
neither understood the other’s language,
but each respected the other
fighting for their country’s beliefs.

Wikipedia Image