England and Wales

A Knight’s Tale

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Paddy Houlihan from Ballybeg is maintaining and promoting an almost forgotten site of significant historic interest – the Knights Templar Graveyard, Kilbarry.

AN IMPORTANT piece of Waterford’s history and heritage is being preserved and promoted thanks to the Trojan efforts of one local man and his granddaughter.

In a fantastic display of community spirit and pride of place, Paddy Houlihan from Ballybeg Square embarked on a project to improve the condition of the Knights Templar Graveyard in Kilbarry some years ago.

Paddy had become increasingly concerned for the condition of the graveyard which is located near Lacken Road Business Park and Templars Hall.

The Knights Templar were an international military order set up to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.

They arrived in Ireland in the late 1100s after the Norman invasion of 1169-71 and the witnessing of an Irish charter by Matthew the Templar in 1177.

They fell out of favour with the King of France in 1307, were persecuted on the continent and closed down in England and Ireland.

Their estates were handed over to their rivals, the Knights Hospitaller, but Kilbarry was one of three preceptories in Ireland retained for the Templars for the remainder of their lives.

The remains of the church of St Barry are located within the Kilbarry Knights Templar Graveyard.
Beside the church, a row of mortared stone buildings with slate roofs were located along with a row of large wooden buildings, probably barns.

Records show that the church, which was located on a slope overlooking a tidal marsh that extended to the River Suir, was in good repair until 1615 when it was still in use and serving the parish. The earliest headstone in the graveyard dates back to 1598 and the latest is dated 1856.

The graveyard lay more or less idle since the mid-1800s and, in the modern era, was believed by many to have been a famine graveyard.

Paddy Houlihan says many local people, including himself and his family, have many fond memories of playing in the area. He recalls the graveyard being a favourite location in which to explore with his brothers and sisters when growing up. “Everybody around this side of the city played in the area,” he explained.

In recent years, Paddy became concerned because of the huge growths of ivy throughout the graveyard, the high grass growths, and the many overhanging trees.

Along with his granddaughter Katie (his trusted sidekick and ‘Project Manager’), they spent countless hours engaging in efforts to clean-up the graveyard. More than 40 headstones/tombstones are located in the graveyard and, during the duo’s work, five tombstones were uncovered which had been hidden in the undergrowth. All of the names on the stones have now been recorded, and the graveyard’s condition has improved immensely.

in munster-express.ie by Kieran Foley

1,300-year-old Anglo-Saxon cross presented to Cambridge museum

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A beautiful gold and garnet cross, found on the breast of a teenage girl buried lying on her own bed about 1,300 years ago, has been presented to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge.

The girl’s grave was found in 2011 by University of Cambridge archaeologists only a few miles from the museum, on land at Trumpington being developed for housing. The bed on which she lay – probably her own – had rotted into the soil centuries ago leaving only the iron supports, but the cross stitched onto the dress which became her shroud was still gleaming.

Both bed burials and Anglo-Saxon jewellery of such regal quality are exceptionally rare finds. A handful of such burials from the late 7th century have been discovered, all believed to be of women, but only one other had a cross.

The cross suggests that she was an early Christian convert, but she was buried between 650 and 680 AD in the pagan style with grave goods which were probably also treasured possessions, including gold and garnet pins, an iron knife, glass beads and a chain which probably hung from her belt. She was found among a group of burials, possibly of relatives, on a site with no previously known Anglo-Saxon connections.

Her bones suggest that she was about 16, and there was no obvious cause of death. She would certainly have been from the Anglo-Saxon elite. Gold and garnet jewellery of such quality was once associated with the women of a royal family in Kent, but pieces are now turning up along the east coast of England. A beautiful brooch was recently reported, found by a student metal detectorist in Norfolk.

The cross is thought to be worth more than £80,000, but has been presented to the museum by the landowners, Grosvenor.

Jody Joy, senior curator at the museum, described it as “a beautiful, mysterious artefact”, which would allow the museum to tell the story of the coming of Christianity to the region.

“The Trumpington Cross and other materials recovered from the dig are of international quality and significance – but with the strongest connections to Cambridge and the surrounding settlements.”

The cross and the girl’s other possessions are being put on temporary display at the museum while a permanent case is being commissioned.

in theguardian.com

Excavations expose long-lost palace at mythical birthplace of King Arthur

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A DARK Age palace has been discovered, strengthening the likelihood that the legend of King Arthur may be based on a grain of truth.

A DARK Age palace has been uncovered on Cornwall’s windswept coast, strengthening the likelihood that the legend of King Arthur may be based on a grain of truth.

Myth has it that King Arthur will return at the hour of Britain’s greatest need. It could certainly do with some help right now.

Whether or not a new archaeological dig at his supposed birthplace of Tintagel Castle will prompt such a second coming is another matter.

But it may already be adding to the evidence that the myth surrounding the warrior king who, with the knights of his roundtable, struggled to hold back a “Dark Age” from enveloping Britain.

The Dark Age has long since proven to have been not so dark. But the scant records from the time have made pinning down one historical character that best fits the outline of the tale near impossible.

Now, archaeologists have returned to Arthur’s traditional birthplace of Tintagel for the first time since the 1990s. They’ve just completed their first dig in a new five-year excavation.

Last month they sank four trenches into previously unexcavated areas of the ancient island settlement.

What they found may be the remains of a 1500-year-old palace.

BIRTHPLACE OF A LEGEND

Like many prominent British landmarks, Tintagel has long been associated with Arthurian legend.

Like all the others, the evidence has been largely limited to hearsay.

The ruined castle that dominates the Tintagel landscape is believed to be from the Medieval 13th century. This would make it some 700 years younger than the Arthurian tales.

But it’s long been thought that the castle may have itself been built upon the ruins of an older structure.

But it was the discovery of a stone engraved with a name linked to Arthur’s in 1998 that reinvigorated interest in the windswept ruins on Cornwall’s coast.

Archaeologists believe it to have been a foundation/dedication stone dating from the 6th century. It is engraved with the name Artognou.

It’s these ruins that may have been linked to the Arthur of legend.

The tales tell of the seduction — some say by magical means — of the beautiful wife of a local lord by the then King of Britain. The illicit act conceived Arthur.

Mythology goes on to say the young boy was raised as a squire — a knight’s assistant — until fate took its hand and placed the rightful king on his throne.

The first written record of the mystic king comes from a monk named Gildas in the sixth century.

But it was a time where books were scarce and the most common form of transmitting history — and telling tales — was through memorised songs and poetry.

It took two several more centuries before a more detailed account of King Arthur and his actions would be recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1138AD.

Unwinding his tangle of myth, legend and history has been a challenge for authors and historians ever since.

At the time of Monmouth’s writing, historians believe Tintagel would likely have been little more than a windswept pile of rubble.

So the notion of it being a powerful palace would have had to have been handed down verbally through the generations.

Just like the tale of Arthur himself.

SCRATCHING THE SURFACE

The archaeologists were guided in their efforts by geophysical surveys of the rocky outcrop’s terraces earlier this year.

Among the ultrasound and radar echoes were outlines of what could be up to a dozen buried buildings, one-metre thick walls and winding paths.

The strategically positioned trenches, two on an upper east terrace and two to the south, have all provided a glimpse of the stonework foundations of long-lost buildings.

From the scattering of potsherds and glass, this places the site smack between 400 and 600AD — precisely the time Arthur is supposed to have led his war band against the invading hordes.

None of this proves Arthur existed.

But the new finds add substance to the idea that the site could have produced cultured but strong warriors as well as influential political figures.

It would have been a beacon of lost civilisation in a world of economic chaos and roving, marauding tribes.

Much of the 150 fragments of glass and pottery recovered had been imported from the far reaches of the then collapsing Roman Empire — indicating a place of both great wealth and trade importance.

One piece was the lip of a Turkish-Phocaean red-slip plate or bowl. It was a particularly fine and highly prized ceramic that would likely have held pride of place on the table of nobility.

Original excavation work in the 1930s led archaeologists to believe the cliffside landmark may have once been an Early Christian monastery.

Later work has steadily strengthened the idea that it may have been an important Dark Age fortress, held by the king of Dumnonia who filled the void in Cornwall left when the Romans abandoned Britain in 410AD.

in news.com.au

Cornish church saved from ruin

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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.

in camelford-today.co.uk

Pentecostes 2016 celebrado com Armações no Priorado de Portugal

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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.

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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.

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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

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TONSURA

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INSTRUÇÃO E LEITURAS

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ARMAÇÃO

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Renovation Works Reveal Medieval Hospital Remains in York

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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

Ruins tell a story which can be traced to Jerusalem

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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

New book Secret Symbols about West Wycombe Caves released

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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

Anyone seen an abbey around here?

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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

Police Hunting For The Holy Grail Find A Salad Bowl

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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.”

in DailyMirror

Search for medieval hospital remains continues

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THE SEARCH for a legendary medieval hospital built by the Knights Templar will resume this weekend as archaeology enthusiasts get to work in a Marlow park.

On Saturday and Sunday, members of Marlow Archaeological Society will re-open the dig in Rookery Park, which last year uncovered evidence of a building dating back to the 17th century.

The history hunters made the discovery of a cellar dating back to around 1660 while looking for the remains of a farmhouse built a hundred years later.

A hospital constructed by the knights after the medieval crusades in the 14th century is rumoured to lie somewhere in Marlow.

And with no record of a building on the Rookery Park dig site from before 1770s, members hope they can start answer some of the burning questions raised by their dig last year.

Society member Doug Courtney said: “We are trying to get further with this older building that no one was expecting to find.

“We are trying to get dating information, what we have found we have dated approximately, but we want to find the rest of the cellar.

“Unfortunately, the new cycle path in the park has destroyed much of the evidence. But it could be quite interesting bearing in mind the Knights Templar hospital that could be in the area. Wouldn’t it be great if we found it?”

Mr Courtney said the group hopes to carry out more work elsewhere in the park, with surveys set to be carried out in the near future.

And members are urging new volunteers to get it on the act over the bank holiday weekend for just a £3 day membership for insurance reasons.

He said: “We are keen to encourage new members to grab a trowel and have a go – they don’t need to have experience.

“Anyone can come along, get down on their hands and knees and start digging with the rest of us. Most of the remains are only a few inches below the ground.”

For fieldwork details and further information, contact Joy Blake 01628 523896, email blake.joy@btopenworld.com or visit the website http://www.marlow-archaeology.org

in Bucks Free Press, by Peter Grant

 

Priceless ‘Holy Grail’ stolen from house after being loaned to seriously ill woman

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The-Nanteos-Cup-aka-the-Holy-Grail

Burglars have stolen a priceless religious artifact believed to be the mythical Holy Grail – after it was loaned to a seriously ill woman.

The Nanteos Cup, an ancient wooden chalice, was rumoured to have been carried over to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, years after the crucifixion of Christ.

The revered Catholic figure later founded a religious settlement at Glastonbury and legend has it that the “grail” then came into the safekeeping of monks.

Over the centuries the mysterious wooden bowl was said to have magical healing powers and in later years it came into the ownership of the Steadman family, who kept it in a bank vault in Wales.

But the Birmingham Mail discovered the cup has now been stolen by burglars after being temporarily loaned to a seriously ill woman connected to the Steadman family.

Raiders struck after she had been admitted to hospital and stole the cup – sparking a major police investigation by West Mercia Police.

It is understood burglars struck at the property in Weston under Penyard, between last Monday and yesterday.

The cup was previously included in a Channel Five documentary called Search for the Holy Grail. In the programme, experts claimed it was actually made at least 1,400 years after the crucifixion.

But the cup has a long held reputation for healing, with people drinking from it in the hope of curing their illnesses.

The Holy Grail has been a issue of controversy and debate amongst historians and theologians – with some religious figures claiming the grail is actually the Holy Chalice, used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.

The search for the mythical religious artefact was the plot for one of the 1980s’ biggest blockbusters, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.

 

in DailyMirror

Knights Templar Charters and Deeds at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions in London

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Rare Archive of 13th Century Knights Templar Charters and Deeds goes under the hammer at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions in London. Printed Books, Maps and Manuscripts sale on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th July 2014.

A significant archive of 28 charters and deeds granting gifts of land and property in West Yorkshire to the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitallers is being auctioned at Dreweatts and Bloomsbury Auctions’ Printed Books, Maps and Manuscripts sale on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th July 2014.

Est. £40,000-60,000 [Lot 183]

Simon Luterbacher, Director of Manuscripts & English Literature at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions said: “Documents relating to the Knights Templar are extremely rare and highly sought after; an archive of this size and quality has not been seen in auction for over 50 years, and likely won’t be again.”

The Knights Templar was a Christian military order founded after the first crusade by Hugo de Payens and Bernard of Clairvaulx to defend pilgrims travelling between Europe and the Holy Land. The order was established in England during the reign of Henry II and quickly gained a large estate throughout several counties, and Yorkshire in particular.

They enjoyed patronage under several kings, especially Richard I, King John and Henry III and were noted for their financial dealings. The order became a favoured charity throughout Christendom when they were officially endorsed by the Catholic Church around 1129; they grew in membership and power.

With their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, Templar Knights were the most skilled and feared fighting units of the Crusades. Once the Holy Land was lost and rumours of the secret initiation ceremony began to circulate and created mistrust, the order was suppressed by order of Philip IV of France in 1307, and later, in England in 1308.

The Knights Hospitallers, or the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, now the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, was a parallel organisation founded in 1099 by The Blessed Gerard Thom to help sick pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land.

As with the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitallers had a military function and gained large estates in the twelfth century. In the 1140s the Order was granted ten acres of land in Clerkenwell, which became their headquarters and of which the gateway still remains and is now the museum of the Order in England. After the fall of the kingdom of Jerusalem, the order moved its headquarters, briefly to Cyprus, then until 1522 to Rhodes, and finally, Malta.

Ten of the 28 are charters and deeds of gifts to the Knights Templar of Temple Newsam comprising:

Richard de Rihil [Ryhill], of c. 20 acres in South Crossland, land in Waderode (land on the river Calder), one and a half acres by the moor near Adam le Venur with rights of burning, building and fencing (3 deeds); Lady Alina, widow, of Crossland, daughter of Philip de Rihill, of half a house or toft, which Elias, son of Adam le Venur held and the right to take wood for building and burning within the boundaries of Crossland, as well as pannage for their pigs within the boundaries of the donors woods and others.

Seventeen of the 28 are charters and deeds of gifts to the Knights Hospitallers of the preceptory of Newland comprising:

Alan, son of Simon de Wately, of all Hardinge Rode and land in Colresle; Robert de Weteley [Whitley or Wheatley], of a third part of the land his uncle gave in Whitley; Matilda of Stanforham of 3s which Jordan, son of Matthew pays from the rent of Flackton [Flockton]; Elias, son of Haswi of Heton [Kirkheaton], of land in Heton; William, son of Michael of Brethwisel, of land in Brethwisel; Adam, son of Robert de Notton, of land between the stream and castle of Almanbira [Almondbury]and others.

The final deed is by Adam, son of Adam de Byrkeg de Cumberward to Peter of Colriselay, granting the land and messuage of the Hospital of Jerusalem in Crossland.

The sale will be held on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th July 2014 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ saleroom in London’s Mayfair. Viewing is at Bloomsbury House on Tuesday 15th July 9:30am – 5:30pm, Wednesday 16th July 9:30am – 7:30pm and day of sale from 9:30am. The catalogue will be available to view online at www.bloomsburyauctions.com

How crusading Templars gave Bruce the edge at Bannockburn

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Bannockburn has long been heralded as Scotland’s finest victory over the Auld Enemy.

The battle has been celebrated in verse and song ever since Robert the Bruce defied the odds to send King Edward II’s army “hameward tae think again” in 1314.

However, a historian now claims the credit lies not with the Scots but with a band of Templar knights from overseas.

Robert Ferguson, an American lawyer, says a new “statistical analysis” shows that a significant number of Templars arrived in Scotland from other parts of Europe and that they tipped the balance in Bruce’s favour.

The King of France ordered the arrest of any Templars in his country in 1307 – seven years before Bannockburn – and Pope Clement later ordered all European monarchs to follow suit.

Ferguson claims, citing a statistician he hired for his research, that at least 29 battle-hardened knights and sergeants would have ended up in Scotland, based on 335 avoiding capture, and that they influenced Bruce’s tactics. And he argues that the real figure could even be as high as 48.

He said Bruce progressed with unusual speed from small encounters with the English to a full-blown battle at Bannockburn with properly armed men.

Ferguson says he has built up a convincing case from the circumstantial evidence that is available.

“Given the battle plan that is commonly accepted for Bannockburn, I believe that the Templars were necessary,” he said.

“The existence of Templars at Bannockburn follows a consistent line of facts.

“There is now good evidence that a number of Templars, if not most of them, were aware that they were going to be arrested, and they escaped. There’s only two places they really could escape to, Portugal and Scotland.”

Ferguson’s new claims are made in his book The Knights Templar And Scotland, which will be published in the new year by The History Press.

Ferguson is a Californian attorney, a former professor of astronomy, and a former vice-president of his local Clan Ferguson Society. His book comes with an endorsement from Raymond Morris, laird of 14th century Balgonie Castle in Fife, who claims to be the “Grand Prior of the Scots” Templars.

“Every Templar should read it,” said Morris.

There are several Templar groups in modern Scotland.

“I’ve got about 150 people in America of Scots ancestry,” said Morris.

But Ferguson’s claims were met with scorn yesterday by historian Helen Nicholson, who teaches medieval warfare at Cardiff University and is an expert on the Templars.

It has been claimed before that Templars took part in the battle, and Nicholson said Ferguson’s theories drew on discredited Victorian historical fantasies.

Nicholson said the idea was “hardly more credible” than old claims that the kingdom of Scotland was founded by the Egyptian princess Scota, and that Ferguson’s theories reheated an old slur on Bruce’s achievements.

“The myth is being used to show that Robert the Bruce was a weak man who couldn’t win his own battles, rather than the inspirational military leader that he was,” she said.

“I think that the Scots should be fighting this myth.”

Nicholson, author of The Knights Templar On Trial, bluntly said claims of Templars fighting at Bannockburn in 1314 were “rubbish”.

“There are no records of any French-speaking knights appearing in Scotland in the early decades of the 14th century in a country where French speakers would certainly be noticed.” she said.

“The story has an unpleasant result for the Scots, because it makes out that Robert Bruce was incapable of defeating the ‘all-powerful’ English, without the help of foreigners.”

The Templars’ main fighting force was wiped out at the Fall of Acre in 1291, she said. By 1307, any left with fighting skills would have been in Cyprus.

“Bruce’s battle plan at Bannockburn would have followed best contemporary practice which, as the Templars also did the same, would have meant that there were some elements in common. This does not mean that Bruce had actually met any Templars.”

The Templars rose to prominence as knights of the Crusades, guarding revered sites and castles in the Holy Land.

But on Friday, 13 October, 1307, King Philip IV of France, heavily in debt to the order, ordered the arrest of its Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and other French Templars. Many confessed to numerous sins under torture, and Pope Clement made his order the following year.

The writer Dan Brown drew heavily on Templar stories in his 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, which was later made into a film, claiming that the order built Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, and guarded many secrets there with their lives.

By Tim Cornwell

The guru with a gift for brainwashing

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Thierry Tilly looks like a geography teacher or a chartered accountant, or a French version of Bill Gates. He claims, variously, to be a Nato “master-spy”, a confidant of presidents and prime ministers, a financial genius, a 21st-century representative of an ancient, secret order descended from the Knights Templar and a man with superhuman powers sworn to fight the forces of evil.

He is now in a French prison, refusing to answer questions on possible charges of kidnap, brutality and torture. Seven or eight of his followers, from three generations of a French aristocratic family, are living in Oxford, Tilly’s base for the past nine years. One of them, formerly a gynaecologist, is working as a gardener. Others have jobs in fast-food restaurants. Until 2006, 11 members of the family had spent five years barricaded in their château at Monflanquin, 100 miles east of Bordeaux.

Their relatives say they remain under the spell of a lurid fantasy, which might have been torn from the pages of a Dan Brown thriller. They have been convinced by Tilly that their family – the De Védrines, part of the Protestant nobility of south-west France for 300 years – has been chosen to struggle against supreme evil by an ancient order called L’Equilibre du Monde (The Balance of the World). Lawyers and relatives say they refuse to accept that they have been duped and fleeced of the family fortune of up to €5m (£4.5m) by an unscrupulous, possibly deranged but mysteriously effective con-man.

Angry landlords in Oxford, owed tens of thousands of pounds by Tilly and his followers, say the De Védrines, aged from 96 to 24, are not necessarily all victims. Some members of the clan, they say, have become Tilly’s willing accomplices.

Dotty sect or elaborate fraud? Either way, since the arrest of Thierry Tilly, 44, in Switzerland last month, relatives in France are desperately worried. They fear that the “Oxford Eight” (or perhaps seven) may be so deeply under Tilly’s spell that they could fall victim to a mass suicide pact. They are angry that British authorities have refused to treat the Tilly affair seriously for more than eight months.

Jean Marchand, 62, a former financial journalist, has run an almost single-handed crusade against Tilly for eight years. The Oxford Eight include his former wife, Ghislaine de Vedrines, 55, and his two children, Guillemette, 32, and François, 30. In September 2001, they abruptly severed all ties with M. Marchand, whom they declared to be an “agent of evil”. His daughter, Guillemette, then 24, abandoned her husband after only four months of marriage. Neither husband nor father has seen her since.

M. Marchand’s wife and children barricaded themselves into the family mansion in France with Ghislaine’s elderly mother, also called Guillemette. They were joined by Ghislaine’s two highly educated and successful brothers, Philippe, then 56, and Charles- Henri, 53, Charles-Henri’s wife Christine, 51, and their three children, Guillaume, 24, Amaury, 21 and Diane, 16. The transfer of the family to Oxford began in 2006.

“I still cannot explain Tilly’s hold on my family. It is a kind of mental kidnapping,” M. Marchand said. “He does not even have to be physically present to control them. Almost from the beginning, he has issued most of his orders by telephone or by email and they have always obeyed him.”

For years, the French judicial authorities refused to intervene, despite a police investigation which showed that the family fortune, in cash, furniture, paintings, jewelry and property, was being systematically liquidated and transferred to accounts controlled by Tilly. In March this year, Charles-Henri’s wife, Christine, fled the group in Oxford and returned to France.

She told French police she had been tortured, physically and mentally, beaten and kept for days in darkened rooms. The ill-treatment, she said, was supposed to dredge from deep in her unconscious the whereabouts of a lost treasure of the Knights Templar, the powerful, shadowy, medieval order of chivalry suppressed by the French monarchy in 1307.

The French authorities issued a European arrest warrant. But. despite several requests by a French investigating magistrate, the British judicial authorities refused to honour the warrant for technical reasons. Tilly was finally arrested aboard an aircraft at Zurich airport on 21 October and extradited to France.

“You might think, or hope, that, with Tilly under arrest, the spell would be broken and they would return, painfully, to reality,” M. Marchand told The Independent in his Paris suburban home, still crowded with portraits of his lost family. “But no, it seems not. They are just as much under his spell as they were before.

“I keep thinking of the Temple du Soleil and Jim Jones’ followers in Guyana [sects which entered mass suicide pacts in 1994 and 1978]. What kind of instructions has Tilly given them? Time may be short. The authorities in France have started to take this affair seriously but in Britain we are still being ignored.”

A few days ago, M. Marchand and his lawyer, an expert criminal psychologist, and other helpers visited Oxford and tried to speak to his relatives, now living in guest-houses, expelled from large houses after they failed to pay rent. The attempt led to violent verbal clashes, photographed and filmed by French journalists. M. Marchand tried to accost his son, François, on the street, leading to another shouting match. Oxford police told M. Marchand there was nothing they could do.

“I love Britain. I have a great admiration for Britain,” M. Mar-chand said. “But the attitude of the UK judicial system in this affair has been unhelpful and obstructive since the beginning. Tilly is a convicted fraudster, with other legal problems in Britain and France. He is being sued, many times over, by ex-landlords in Oxford. The French investigating magistrate has asked for the right simply to interview the members of the De Védrines family still in Oxford. He has been systematically refused.”

M. Marchand is especially worried about his daughter, Guillemette, who has not been seen in public for months. In theory, she is still in Oxford but Mr Marchand fears she has been taken elsewhere; or that something worse may have happened to her.

Philippe de Védrines, a former oil executive, now 71, was the first family member to “escape” from Tilly, with his wife Brigitte, 61, in 2008. Much of the French police information on Tilly’s methods and far-fetched claims comes from Philippe, now living in Normandy. He refuses to bring a legal action or talk to the press.

The second breakthrough came in March this year. Christine de Védrines, 59, the wife of the former gynaecologist, Charles-Henri, was persuaded to flee from Tilly by a Frenchman, living in Oxford, for whom she worked as a cook. Robert Pouget was born in Paris and educated in Britain. He came back to England after his French military service and started a business in Oxford selling fresh produce. Mr Pouget said: “After more than a year of working for me, we sat discussing things one night after hours and she just came out with all of it, the whole story.

“She had been incarcerated of her own volition with these people. They had told her she was the direct descendant of people who knew where treasure, handed down from generation to generation, had been hidden by the Knights Templar as a fund to help French aristocrats if they got into trouble: except, she couldn’t remember where it was hidden or how to get it. She said she was taken from bank to bank in Brussels to try to find it but she just couldn’t remember. I told her that was because she had never known. She was told a lie.”

Mr Pouget arranged for Christine to call a cousin in France, who came to collect her within two days. “Christine was a very sweet, nice woman. She was good-natured and kind. When she came to work with normal people, little by little I think, the realisation dawned that it was all an illusion.”

Andrew Scully, 48, also rues the day he ever met Thierry Tilly and the De Védrines. Since renting two houses in Cornwallis Road, Oxford, to Tilly and Guillaume, in 2006 he has been involved in 19 court cases, partly for non-payment of rent, partly counter-claims by the De Védrines.

He rejects the suggestion that the De Védrines are hapless victims. He believes they are “all in it”, especially Guillaume, whom he describes as “Tilly’s right-hand man”. He adds: “They were almost imprisoned in a house that was boarded and shuttered. No one was allowed in or out. Tilly tried to tell me I was being watched and followed, that he had his own entourage of enforcers. I don’t care what happens to any of them, after what they have put me through. They think they are a high-and-mighty, wealthy family but they are just money-grabbing.”

Tilly, in prison in south-west France, is refusing to answer questions. But how was he able to commandeer the lives of three generations of a family, described by M. Marchand as “previously joyous, outward-going, successful people”?

The man was born in March 1964 in Bois-Colombes, west of Paris. He has a record of fraud convictions and failed companies in France. In 1999, he began to work for Mr Marchand’s former wife, Ghislaine (née De Védrines), who ran a successful secretarial school in Paris. He was rapidly taken into Ghislaine’s confidence and, through her, became friendly with her two brothers. M. Marchand said: “I asked her colleagues whether they thought that Tilly and my wife were having an affair. They said, ‘No, we think it’s far, far worse than that’.”

Tilly even tried to recruit M. Marchand. He claimed to be, variously, a “Nato agent”, a confidant of George Bush and to have limitless, mental powers. M. Marchand dismissed his claims as fantasy. He believes Tilly “brain-washed” the De Védrines by playing cleverly on their pride as members of a prominent, Protestant aristocratic family. He persuaded them that previous generations of the De Védrines had always been “called” to act for the forces of good against the forces of evil. He even invented a fictitious role as a wartime resistance hero for the elderly matriarch, Guillemette, but told her children never to discuss it with her.

Another technique used by Tilly, M. Marchand says, was to convince his wife and brothers-in-law that he could make them very rich, then persuaded them that they were in imminent, mortal danger from “evil forces” (including M. Marchand). If they pursued their normal lives, they would be killed instantly.

What were the De Védrines doing for all those years when they were locked in the family chateau, now sold? “Nothing. That is the tragedy,” said M. Marchand. “My brother-in-law Philippe, told me that they were doing absolutely nothing. Most heartbreakingly of all, he says that my daughter Guillemette used to have moments of lucidity. She would say, ‘The best years of my life are being thrown away’. All the same, she remained, somehow, under Tilly’s spell.”

The Independent tried to contact Charles-Henri de Védrines and one of his sons, who work for The Oxford Garden Company. The company said they declined to speak to the press “for the time being”. But Charles-Henri did say: “The truth will come out eventually, then the world will see.”

in theindependent