Houses of Knights Templars: Preceptory of Great Wilbraham

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1948.

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'Houses of Knights Templars: Preceptory of Great Wilbraham', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 2, (London, 1948) pp. 263. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]


Robert the Chamberlain gave to the cell at Denney the ninth sheaf in his manor at Wilbraham and the church there. (fn. 1) When Denney had become a preceptory of the Templars, Great Wilbraham Church remained appropriated to the maintenance of the sick at Denney (fn. 2) even after the foundation of a preceptory in its own parish, though the Preceptor of Wilbraham was responsible for an annual payment of 40s. in augmentation of the stipend assigned to the vicar c. 1240. (fn. 3)

In 1226 Peter Malauney granted to Brother Alan Martel, Master of the Temple in England, all that he held of the king in Wilbraham: (fn. 4) in 1237 mention appears in the Pipe Roll of lands given to the Templars in Wilbraham to the value of £15, which Peter 'de Malo Alneto' held. This seems to represent the three-quarters of a moiety of the manor, which Henry III gave to Hubert de Burgh and which Hubert exchanged to the Templars for land elsewhere. (fn. 5) Henry III gave a piece of woodland called Kingswood in Carlton, (fn. 6) and a manor of Carlton is subsequently found in the Templars' hands. (fn. 7) In 1279 there were thirteen free tenants in Wilbraham holding of the knights, (fn. 8) and in 1298, when Edward I was buying up wool just before his truce with France, John Porthors of Cambridge, and others, the king's buyers, paid £15 3s. 4d. to Richard Peytevyn, Preceptor of Wilbraham, for 3½ bales of wool. (fn. 9)

This Richard Peytevyn was, in 1308, arrested at Dinsley, where he had originally been received into the Order by Humbert Peraut, the master in England, at the chapter of 1266, together with William de la Forde and Thomas of Toulouse. (fn. 10) Whereas Peytevyn had been a Templar for 42 years, the two brethren arrested at Wilbraham had both had comparatively short service in the Order. William de Thorp, who is described as custos, not preceptor, had been received by the Grand Preceptor of Yorkshire 6 or 7 years before in the chapel at Foulbridge. (fn. 11) William Raven had been received by William de la More, the arrested master, at Templecombe, together with a knight of the Order, since dead; although about 100 seculars were present there were only 2 brethren there, of whom one, John de Walpole, serviens literatus, afterwards instructed him for a month in the Rule. He had made no other formal profession after this reception, and he had spent the whole of the 5 years which had elapsed since it took place at Wilbraham. (fn. 12)

With the preceptory of Wilbraham John Creke took over the manor in Carlton and the churches of Great Wilbraham and Wendy. (fn. 13) The house of the preceptory seems to have been a small manorhouse, very simply furnished, and the only ornaments of the chapel were a vestment, with towels, worth a mark, and one silver chalice, together with the necessary books: (fn. 14) in the chest, for transmission to the master, was £4. The most elaborate fittings in the house seem to have been those for dairying, with presses for cheese, a churn, a large fixed cauldron for heating milk, and other utensils.

On 21 December 1313 the manors of Wilbraham and Duxford and the churches of Great Wilbraham and Wendy were handed over to Brother William de Sauston of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Carlton was lost to the Hospital for a time, but in 1338 the Hospitallers held there 144 acres, worth 6d. an acre, 34 acres of meadow and pasture worth 12d. an acre, a little wood which yielded 10s. in profits, and stock which yielded £4. (fn. 15)


  • 1. Mon. Angl. vi, 1552.
  • 2. See above.
  • 3. Cole, Docts. Illustrative of Engl. Hist. 208.
  • 4. Farrer, Feudal Cambs. 122; Pat. R. 1225-32, p. 30; Cal. Chart. R. i, 1.
  • 5. Rot. Hundr. (Rec. Com.), ii, 491.
  • 6. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), ii, 177. The writ is printed as addressed to Vic' Kanc', in error for Vic' Kant[abrigie]. Cf. Cott. MS. Nero C. IX, fol. 28.
  • 7. Exch. L.T.R. Enrd. Accts. 18-20.
  • 8. Rot. Hundr. (Rec. Com.), ii, 491.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 1292-1301, p. 332.
  • 10. Wilkins, Concilia, ii, 339-40.
  • 11. Ibid. 341. The Grand Preceptor was Thomas of Toulouse.
  • 12. Ibid. 334.
  • 13. Exch. L.T.R. Enrd. Accts. 18-20.
  • 14. Missal, antiphonal, graal, troper, psalter, and 2 legenda.
  • 15. Larking, Hospitallers in Engl. (Camd. Soc.), 163.