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.

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

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

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