Lying next to a main road in Dover, a stone’s throw from a residential street, is an interesting set of medieval ruins.
Known as the Knights Templar Church – by English Heritage and Google and pretty much everyone – they comprise flint and mortar remains in the shape of a rectangular chancel around 10 metres long.
It is believed to date back to the 12th century. But it’s not quite as it seems.
Despite its popular name, most experts seem dubious about its specific Knights Templar origins.
English Heritage describes the links to the famous order as “tenuous”.
The Knights Templar were a military and religious group founded in the 12th century during the Crusades, to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land and to defend the holy places there.
Dover then would be a good location to do it from.
They became rich and powerful but increasingly unpopular, and were eventually suppressed in 1312.
Apparently, the form of the Western Heights ruins mirrors that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, accounting for the link with the Templars.
But as English Heritage experts point out: “The port of Dover, the chief departure point for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, was an obvious place for the Templars to have held property.
“But they are believed to have left the town before 1185 and their links to this particular site are tenuous.
“An alternative interpretation suggests that the building was a wayside shrine on the Dover to Folkestone road.”
Experts also point to the site not being listed as belonging to the Order in surviving records.
The Dover area does have other strong links to the Knights Templar however.
They are believed to have established a church at Temple Ewell in 1170.
While only below ground ruins remain from their Preceptory, they are said to have founded St Peter and St Paul Church that stills stands in the village today.
Apparently evidence of the original Norman work can be seen in the north doorway and the high narrow window in the north wall of the nave.
Some suggest the Knights Templar may have used the Western Heights building before moving to Temple Ewell, but again an expert says it’s “more likely to have been a simple road-side shrine”.
Others say the shape, a smaller scale form of both the Jersualem church and the New Temple Church in London, indicate it may have had links to the Order’s supporters, even if it wasn’t a part of their formal estate.
Either way, it’s an intriguing thing to look at in a prominent location in Dover.
And with the Western Heights fortifications and nature reserve trail nearby, there is plenty of history – not to mention spectacular views – to take in too.
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.”
in Bucks Free Press, by Peter Grant
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.