England and Wales
With the heavy rain proving the church roof is now definitely watertight, a small gathering greet the grant representatives from Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund which contributed over £70,000 towards the costs of re-roofing and repairs. From left: Archdeacon of Bodmin Ven Audrey Elkington, roof repair fund programme manager Sarah Palmer and grants officer Sarah Drewell, roof and tower restoration project team members Laurence Harvey, Richard Cavin and David Attwell. Picture: Peter Glaser
A CORNISH church founded by the Knights Templar has been saved from ruin thanks to nearly £90,000 of grants and huge efforts from the local community.
St Catherine’s Church lies in the wild hamlet of Temple on Bodmin Moor. It has had a chequered history from its origins as an outpost for the secretive medieval order of the Knights Templar to its reputation in the 18th century as the Gretna Green of the South West.
Now, after 12 weeks of construction and over 18 months of planning, this historic church has been restored to glory. It was the 2015 quinquennial survey that reported the church roof as ‘nailsick’ and the resulting water damage meant that the church’s days were numbered. The village community rallied and in partnership with Blisland Parochial Church Council secured the funding, planning consents and contractors to bring the church back from the brink.
The Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund came to Temple’s aid with a grant of £70,300, which together with £10,000 from the National Churches Trust and another £5,000 each from the Cornwall Historic Churches Trust and the Blisland and Temple Preservation Society put the project to save the church well on its way.
The final funds were all thanks to the Blisland PCC, the Scottish Knights Templars and the Headley Trust along with local fundraising events and concerts.
Karen Dickin, chair of the Temple village sub-group, said: “It’s been a real team effort. So many individuals have pledged their time and expertise to make this happen and the result has been the rescue of a church that is our best and only community asset.”
All-in-all it’s taken over £117,000 to complete the works. This has paid for contractors W R Bedford to re-roof the entire building, install a new drainage system and complete crucial timber repairs to the structure itself. The sensitive reuse of the original ‘fishtail’ slates means that the church retains its old world charm, and the scheduling of works and choice of materials has meant that the three resident colonies of bats have been left unharmed. The church is many things to many people — a place of calm and refuge, a centre of the community, a touchstone to history. Thanks to this project the church can continue to be all those things for many years to come.
A OSMTHU, através do seu Priorado Ibérico, celebrou este ano o Pentecostes, realizando uma cerimónia de Armação de novos Cavaleiros e Damas, que teve lugar em aquartelamento protegido na região do Alentejo. Além das autoridades nacionais da Ordem, incluindo o Grão Prior Fr+ Luis de Matos e o Capelão Geral, Mons. Tau Christophorus de Lusignan, esteve igualmente presente o Senescal da Ordem, membro do Conselho Magistral e Prior da Inglaterra e Gales, Fr+ Leslie Payne.
Na mesma ocasião prestou juramento ainda o Fr+ Paulo Valente, KCTJ, sendo investido como Comendador da Comendadoria de Sintra, que terá o especial encargo de proceder à instrução da classe de Noviços.
Damos os parabéns a todos os Cavaleiros e Damas armados nesta ocasião, acolhendo-os numa fraternidade de serviço, espiritualidade e busca pelo conhecimento. Que os seus nomes sejam conhecidos: Cavaleiro Fernando Silva, KTJ; Cavaleiro Jaime Laranjeira, KTJ; Cavaleiro João Pedro Silva, KTJ; Cavaleiro Joaquim Marvão, KTJ; Cavaleiro Jorge Rosa, KTJ; Dama Margarida Rodrigues, DTJ; Cavaleiro Miguel Fabiana, KTJ; Dama Paula Valente, DTJ; Cavaleiro Pedro Coradinho, KTJ; Dama Rosa Ferreira, DTJ; Dama Sandra de Oliveira, DTJ; Cavaleiro Victor Varela Martins, KTJ e Cavaleiro Victor Graça, KTJ.
Agradecemos ainda a todos os que organizaram e puseram todo o seu esforço ao serviço da Ordem neste dia tão especial.
INÍCIO DA VIGÍLIA
INSTRUÇÃO E LEITURAS
Renovations at the York Theatre Royal have brought to life remains from what is considered to have been the largest hospital in northern England in the Middle Ages. Researchers from the York Archaeology Trust were surprised by the well preserved state of the remains, as it was believed that whatever remained from St Leonard’s Hospital had been crushed beneath the floor of the theatre, which underwent a replacement at the beginning of the twentieth century, soon after the discovery of several column plinths and the foundations for the rib-vaulted ground floor of a building.
The discovery of the plinths and foundations was made by George Benson, a historian and archaeologist, Culture 24 details, but were believed to have been destroyed, until in 1989 a research team unearthed two bays of a rib-vaulted roof at the site. However, it remained uncertain whether anything else had survived over the centuries, especially since the erection of the York Theatre Royal in 1744.
The latest remains found in what are called occupation deposits beneath the building consist of six column plinths and the base of the northern wall of a building right beneath the theatre’s stalls. There is a lot of documentary evidence about St. Leonard’s Hospital, and the researchers are hopeful that they will be able to uncover more parts of one of the busiest hospitals in Medieval England and identify what they were used for. Parts of the hospital’s undercroft remain above the surface and can be visited from the Museum Gardens.
St. Leonard’s Hospital was built over the remains of another hospital, St Peter’s, in 1137, after the initial building suffered a fire. It went on to become a completely self-sufficient (and profitable) complex for more than four centuries. Ben Reeves, from the York Archaeology Trust, told Culture 24 that documents from the time describe the hospital as a complex of separate buildings, including a leper house, an infirmary, a chapel, and a children’s ward, as well as a residential area for the monks and nuns who ran the hospital. The complex must have also included other structures such as kitchens and outbuildings. Examination of the occupation deposits in which this latest discovery was made could reveal which of the buildings used to be on the site of the York Theatre Royal. Reeves cautioned that such an examination would have to be combined with a dose of luck but added that having samples to examine at all was in itself valuable.
Reeves went on to say that what makes the discovery extraordinary is the very fact of the remains’ survival. Occupation deposits are as a rule very fragile and seldom “survive modern groundworks,” he explained. St Leonard’s Hospital was almost entirely destroyed in 1539, during the Reformation, and the city of York had no hospital until 1740, according to the “History of York” website. Excavation works will now continue at the site of the York Theatre Royal with the researchers hoping to uncover more parts of the building that could provide some insight as to its function.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: W. Monkhouse/ Wellcome Trust
By: Irina Slav in newhistorian.com
The ruins of Chibburn Preceptory stand about a mile from Widdrington Village. It was a house of the Order of St John of Jerusalem and stood in its own agricultural estate. It was, in other words, a manor. The head of such a house was called the preceptor, hence preceptory.
The Order of St John was also known as the Knights Hospitaller. Being a military order, they later adopted the title of commander for the heads of houses so Low Chibburn is sometimes referred to as Chibburn Commandery, but they both mean the same thing, the lowest level of territorial responsibility within the Order.
The Hospital of St John of Jerusalem was founded in 1113 by a man called Gerard, about whom little else is known. It had probably existed for some time previously, but 1113 is when it was formally established under papal authority. Its object was to care for the poor and strangers, and since this was Jerusalem the strangers would most likely be pilgrims.
There were older hospitals in Jerusalem, even as far back as the 7th century. But Gerard’s was so much appreciated by the pilgrims and crusaders that they rewarded him with estates, at that time mostly in Palestine and southern Europe. Gerard died in 1118 and was followed by Raymond of Provence.
Raymond was a warrior aristocrat. He re-founded the Order, built a larger hospital and added the care of the sick. He also provided armed escorts to pilgrims going to and from Jerusalem, and it was he who first took the title of Grand Master.
Full members of the Order were monks, bound by lifetime vows. There were three classes: Military brothers, brothers chaplain and brothers infirmarer. The military brothers were knights, i.e. heavy cavalry. The chaplains were priests. Their main duty was to celebrate the Mass and perform the other services of the church. The infirmarers looked after the inmates.
There were also extern knights, who fought alongside the military brothers, but only served for a limited time, and there were turcopoles. The turcopoles were a light cavalry, recruited from men born in Palestine of mixed parentage and equipped in the Turkish fashion.
The Hospitallers’ charitable work never stopped, but the military role soon took first place. Along with the Knights Templar, they defended the Kingdom of Jerusalem against the Saracens, but for all practical purposes they were expelled from the Holy Land in 1291 with the fall of Acre.
They set up instead on the island of Rhodes, and later at Malta, and turned to the suppression of piracy and the protection of Christian pilgrims and trade routes throughout the Mediterranean.
AT their height, the Knights Hospitaller were organised into eight ‘tongues’, or nations, each tongue into priories and each priory into preceptories. The main purpose of having preceptories was to raise money for the Order’s work in the Holy Land, or later in the Mediterranean at large.
According to a 13th Century writer, the hospitallers had 19,000 properties scattered across Europe. As there were only 656 preceptories, this suggests that each preceptory was responsible on average for about 30 lesser properties.
An information panel at Low Chibburn says that the estate ‘was given to the Order in 1313’. This is not correct. It was already in existence. William Woodman, writing in the Archaeological Journal for 1860, says that Chibburn is first mentioned in a return made by Bishop Kellawe of Durham in that year, following the suppression of the Knights Templar in 1312.
“‘In the archdeaconry of Northumberland, the Hospitallers have the house of Chibburn (domus de Chipburn) which, with the small things thereunto pertaining, (cum minutis ad eam pertintentibus) is usually estimated at ten pounds per annum.
“At this time,” says Woodman, “when the Hospitalers had not acquired the lands of the Templars, it appears that Chibburn belonged to the Knights of St John, therefore it must have been originally granted to them.
“No evidence has been found to show at what period or by whom the establishment was originally founded, possibly by the Fitzwilliams, the tenants in capite under the crown, or by the Widdringtons, who held under them in the 12th century.”
He thought the Widdringtons more likely because: “Immediately over the arch of the south doorway (i.e. of the chapel) there are two escutcheons … nearly obliterated, but traces of a cross patée, doubtless for the Knights of St John, may be seen on one, and a quarterly coat on the other. It is not improbable that this may have been the coat of Widdrington, an ancient family in the neighbourhood.”
WE have copious information from a survey of all Hospitaller properties in England in 1338. It was discovered in Malta in about 1830, hidden in a walled-up cavity in a house belonging to the Order.
The community consisted of a Preceptor, a brother chaplain, and a third brother, who was presumably the infirmarer. They also had a stipendiary chaplain, a chamberlain, head stableman, stable boy, steward (farm bailiff), a laundress, a clerk who acted as a collector, and a pensioner who got 20 shillings ayear for life.
Some of these would have been married men, and there would also have been peasant families on the estate, so the total population of Low Chibburn would perhaps be as many as 50 or 60 people.
Income was £23 18s. 8d., and outgoings £17 13s. 4d. Woodman analyses both in detail. The income was severely affected by the war with Scotland. The manor house was ruinous, and the balance available to send to the headquarters at Clerkenwell was less than ten pounds.
There is no direct evidence of Chibburn managing other properties in Northumberland, but Hodgson, in the chapter on Woodhorn in his History of Northumberland, says that in 1294 the prior of the hospital of St John of Jerusalem claimed certain privileges (for example, exemption from tithes) in respect of lands that he held in Ulgham, ‘Wetewirth’, Seton, Newbiggin, Ellington and elsewhere.
It seems unlikely that the prior would have made this claim personally so it must have been made by someone acting on his behalf. But whether this was the preceptor of Chibburn or somebody else, we do not know.
Henry VIII suppressed the Order in 1540. Woodman records that, ten years later, the Ministers in the Augmentation Office held Hospitaller lands at Ulgham, North Seaton, Newbiggin, Ellington, Felton, Chevington, and Morwick.
They do not say that they had been under the control of Chibburn — indeed, all of the Northumberland estates, including Chibburn and Temple Thornton, are described as parcels of the Preceptory of Mount St John in Yorkshire, but it seems likely that they were.
Soon after this, the Widdringtons of Widdrington Castle bought the preceptory from the crown. They demolished everything except the chapel (if it hadn’t all fallen down already) and built a dower house for the dowager ladies or other landless members of the family.
What remains today is mainly the ruins of the house and the medieval chapel.
in Morpeth Herald
A PUB landlord has completed ‘a kind of Da Vinci Code journey’ through the notorious Hell Fire Caves – and written a book to dispel some of the myths surrounding the West Wycombe tourist attraction.
Eamonn Loughran, 42, has published ‘Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club’ after living for 20 years on West Wycombe Road and looking up at the Dashwood Mausoleum every day.
He says the much-published ‘history’ of the Hell Fire Club adds up to little more than gossip, adding: “The idea that Sir Francis Dashwood dug these caves simply to get drunk and worship the devil is absolute rubbish.
“There were a lot of very bad books written about the club from early 1900s onwards, mostly by journalists who sensationalised the stories.”
Rumours of black magic, satanic rituals and orgies surrounded Dashwood’s club when it was around in the 1750s and 60s.
But after years of research Mr Loughran has found that though many of these activities undoubtedly went on, the ideas behind the caves are much more intricate and complex than might appear.
The father-of-three got interested in the Dashwood estate when he met a researcher who was collecting voice recordings from farm workers and people speaking in the old Buckinghamshire dialect.
His ‘ears pricked up’ when he heard some of the voices tell of local ghost stories and he began to collect his own oral evidence of local legends and folklore.
He ended up meeting descendants of illegitimate children born of amorous liaisons in the caves, as well as existing members of Hell Fire Chapters in the UK and abroad. He now lives in Lincolnshire and has since become a member of one of the Chapters.
Mr Loughran is critical of the way the Hell Fire Caves are full of “tourist kitsch” and leave visitors with “quite a negative response”.
He said: “I know they do a good trade with things like kids’ parties, but there are no ghosts down there and it’s a bit of a shame that people are going to what’s quite a beautiful and mythological place and treating it like some kind of Halloween experience.
“The caves are really a very important monument and should, like the tunnels inside the Egyptian pyramids, be studies in depth.
“To enter them with no more information than is found in a ‘tourist attraction’ would be like treating Westminster Abbey as somewhere that’s merely scary and Gothic.”
He says the caves, along with the church and mausoleum, are full of intricate symbolism, science and philosophy and are a ‘testament to a man’s love of liberty and freedom’. He added: “We need to look very closely at what this actually is”.
His book examines the astronomical positions of the caves’ entrances – “a little bit like you would with Stone Henge”, while indicating the possible existence of Knights Templar cosmology deep underground at West Wycombe.
He promises a look at the “most notorious of secret societies from the inside” and details rare information deriving from Sir Francis Dashwood’s intellectually brilliant daughter Rachel Frances Antonina (‘The Infidel’), who knew the poet Coleridge and Thomas de Quincey. There is also a focus on a 1940’s ‘Phoenix Nest’ occult group which met at West Wycombe and whose members published books on esoteric subjects up to the 1970’s.
Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club is available in hardback on http://www.amazon.co.uk for £22.
by Bucks Free Press
ARCHAEOLOGISTS turned up in force to examine the history of Bisham Abbey last month.
About 20 enthusiasts were told of the little-known fact that the existing building once home to the Knights Templar is actually a manor house as opposed to an abbey.
However, as John Laker, of Archaeology In Marlow, insists: “The house is still of immense interest, with parts of it dating back over 800 years.”
The tour was led by historian Anne Daracott, of Maidenhead, an expert on Bisham Abbey.
The house has had a number of famous inhabitants, including the Knights Templar, and remained in the ownership of the Earl of Salisbury’s family for a number of generations.
The building was even used as a jail for dignitaries such as Elizabeth I who was imprisoned there by Queen Mary.
The original hall of the Knights Templar is still in existence, as is one of the most impressive dovecots in the country dating to the 16th Century.
Remains of the original abbey, which was thought to be attached to the house, have not been discovered.
in Bucks Free Press
During a dawn raid, 12 burly officers accused pub workers of hiding the supposed cup Jesus Christ drank from at the last supper
Police hunting for the stolen Holy Grail were left red-faced when all they found was a wooden salad bowl.
The team of 12 officers accused pub workers of hiding the missing ancient relic, thought by many to be the cup Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper.
Police and a dog handler locked all the staff inside while they searched every inch of the 15th century pub on their quest.
But after an hour the only thing they found that looked like the missing medieval cup was a wooden bowl used to serve salad to customers.
Shocked landlady Di Franklyn said: “I was amazed to see so many police – they said they had been given information that this Holy Grail had been shown off by someone here.
“But if somebody had stolen something as priceless as the Holy Grail I don’t think it would be on show in my pub.
“But the police were taking the information very seriously because there were so many of them including a police dog handler.”
Legend has it that the cup has healing powers and was named after the vessel that Jesus drank out of during the Last Supper.
Staff at the Crown pub in Lea, Herefordshire, were not allowed to leave the premises during the search and a policeman stood guard during the early morning raid.
Bemused Di, 54, said: “I have been shown a picture of the missing cup – if it had been here we would have thrown it on the fire because it is not whole any more.
“The only thing here that looks like it is an old salad bowl.”
The cup is said to have been brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, the founder of a religious settlement in Glastonbury during the mediaeval period.
The grail then came into the possession of a group of Somerset monks who later fled with the cup to Strata Florida Abbey, near Tregaron in in Ceredigion.
For centuries the historic cup was kept at Nanteos Mansion in the village of at Rhydfelin near Aberystwyth.
But it was stolen while being cared for by Fiona Mirylees, from Weston-under-Penyard, Herefordshire, whose family once owned the mansion in Wales.
Police said the cup went missing after it had been loaned to a seriously-ill woman because of its healing powers.
When the fragile dark wooden cup was stolen, sometime between Monday July 7 and Monday July 14 – the remaining pieces were not taken.
West Mercia Police officers said the raid was carried out after they “received intelligence” that the stolen cup had been seen in the pub.
A spokesman said: “We were told it was still there and so executed a search warrant to try and find it.”