A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1909.
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In this section
- HOUSES OF MILITARY ORDERS
HOUSES OF MILITARY ORDERS
8. THE TEMPLE
The first mention of the Knights Templars in connexion with England is in 1128, when Hugh de Payens, the master of the order, visited this country, (fn. 1) and received aid both in men and money for the cause. The foundation of the house outside Holborn Bars probably dates from this time, for Hugh de Payens before he left appointed a prior to preside over the English branch of the order, (fn. 2) and since other settlements here were cells of the Temple at London it follows that this central house must have been established early.
Among the first patrons of the Templars in this country were Earl Robert de Ferrers, (fn. 3) Bernard de Balliol, (fn. 4) King Stephen and Queen Matilda, (fn. 5) but the earliest grant made to them in London of which there is evidence was Henry II's gift or confirmation (fn. 6) of the place on the Fleet by Castle Baynard, the watercourse for a mill, a messuage by Fleet Bridge, (fn. 7) and the advowson of St. Clement Danes. (fn. 8) Henry seems to have been a great benefactor of the knights, for he gave them lands in other parts of England. (fn. 9) It is probably to him that they owed the silver mark paid from the revenues of many of the English counties in 1155, (fn. 10) since it is called 'alms newly constituted.'
In Henry's reign there are indications that the Templars were already playing that part in diplomacy and finance which was so remarkable a feature of their career. Richard de Hastings, the master of the Temple, and two others were entrusted with the castles which were to be delivered to Henry II on the marriage of his son with Margaret of France, and found it expedient to leave France when Henry by a piece of sharp practice had the two children married and secured the castles. (fn. 11) Hastings' influence was also used to persuade Becket to accept the Constitutions of Clarendon. (fn. 12) That the Templars were at this time employed by the king in monetary affairs is shown by Walter of Coventry's story (fn. 13) of Gilbert de Ogrestan, the Knight Templar who, appointed collector of the tenth, was detected in embezzlement in 1188, and severely punished by the master.
The extent of the possessions acquired by the Templars in England during a period of scarcely sixty years can be seen in the return to an inquisition ordered by Geoffrey Fitz Stephen, the master of the Temple, in 1185. (fn. 14) The list includes land in London, and in every part of the country, Essex, Kent, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Salop, Oxfordshire, Cornwall, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, &c., and the holdings were large in many cases. At this time their possessions were divided into districts, apparently for the purposes of revenue, and one of these is called the 'Baillia' of London. (fn. 15) The master, of course, had his head quarters here, but the ordinary administration of the house seems to have been carried on as elsewhere by a preceptor. (fn. 16) There was also a prior, (fn. 17) whose duties were presumably religious, for he was warden of the chapel. (fn. 18)
In 1184 the house was transferred to what was probably a more convenient situation in Fleet Street, (fn. 19) and was henceforth known as the New Temple. The church, round like the one in Holborn, (fn. 20) was dedicated the next year by Heraclius, patriarch of Jerusalem, to the honour of God and the Virgin. (fn. 21)
Richard I confirmed to the Templars all the previous donations made to them, granting them exemption from all pleas, suits, danegeld, and from murdrum and latrocinium, (fn. 22) but otherwise he appears to have come but little in contact with them, (fn. 23) a striking contrast to the relations of the Templars and the crown in the next two reigns. If the papal bull declaring the immunity of persons and goods within the houses of the order was issued, as seems most likely, by Innocent III in 1200, (fn. 24) it would largely account for the use of the New Temple as a place of deposit for royal treasure which could be drawn upon as necessary. The other function of a bank performed by the New Temple, the advance of money, was made possible by the accumulation there of the revenues of the order in England. John had continual transactions of this kind with the Temple: (fn. 25) in 1212 he had 10,000 marks from which he directed sums to be paid out, (fn. 26) in 1213 he deposited 20,000 marks there, (fn. 27) while in 1215 Aymeric, master of the Temple, lent him 1,100 marks to obtain troops from Poitou. (fn. 28) Nor did John's dealings with the Templars end here: he had as almoner a Templar, Roger, (fn. 29) who in 1215 had charge of business (fn. 30) not usually associated with his office; Aymeric, the master, was sent by him as his envoy to Normandy in 1204 (fn. 31); a Templar and a Hospitaller were employed in a similar capacity in 1205 (fn. 32); it was at the preceptory of Ewell that he made his submission to the pope, (fn. 33) on which occasion Aymeric supplied him with the gold mark for the offering (fn. 34); and he was residing at the New Temple when the barons made their demands (fn. 35) which led to the granting of Magna Charta at Runnymede, where Aymeric again figures as one of the king's supporters. (fn. 36) Naturally, John made several gifts to the order which he found so useful. The confirmation of their privileges in the first year of his reign can hardly be reckoned in this category, seeing that they paid for it £1,000, (fn. 37) but apart from this he gave to the Templars the isle of Lundy, (fn. 38) land at Huntspill and Cameley before 1203, (fn. 39) Harewood, (fn. 40) 'Radenach,' (fn. 41) and some houses in Northampton in 1215. (fn. 42)
The relations of Henry III with the Templars are in a greater degree those of his father. Through the New Temple was paid in instalments the money due to Louis of France, (fn. 43) and there were deposited 500 marks for the expedition to Poitou (fn. 44) in 1221 and for 'the good men of Rupella' (fn. 45) in 1232, and sums for similar purposes in 1224 (fn. 46) and 1225, (fn. 47) while the king obtained loans (fn. 48) from the Temple as occasion arose. The house acted indeed as the royal treasury, (fn. 49) the king's wardrobe being located there in 1225. (fn. 50) The master of the Temple, (fn. 51) Alan Marcell, was employed by the king in negotiations abroad in 1224, and Robert de Sanford, master in 1236, was one of those sent by the king to escort Eleanor of Provence to England (fn. 52); Thomas, a Templar, (fn. 53) was in charge of the king's great ship in 1225 and 1226, and another Templar was acting as the king's almoner in 1241. (fn. 54) Henry had such a high opinion of the order that at one time he intended to be buried in the New Temple, (fn. 55) where he established in 1231 a chantry of three chaplains with an income of £8 a year. (fn. 56) In the eleventh year of his reign he had confirmed all grants made to the Templars with sac and soc, tol and team, &c., exempting them from sheriffs' aids, hidage, carucage, danegeld, &c., waste, regard and view of foresters, from tolls in markets and fairs throughout his realm, and granting them the amercements of their men. (fn. 57) He gave to them also a wood in Carlton called Kingswood, (fn. 58) and the manor and advowson of 'Roel.' (fn. 59)
The king was present with a number of the chief persons of the kingdom when, in 1240, the new part of the Temple church was dedicated. (fn. 60) Relaxation of penance had before this time (fn. 61) been offered to those visiting the church, some of the indulgences being perhaps anterior to the foundation in Fleet Street, (fn. 62) but after 1240 several prelates, among whom were the bishops of Ely, Waterford, and Ossory, (fn. 63) tried in this way to attract the alms of the faithful, particularly for the maintenance of lights. It is uncertain whether the papal indult of forty days was granted by Innocent III or Innocent IV. (fn. 64) The tombs of some of those buried there, among them the Earls Marshal (fn. 65) and Hugh Bigod, (fn. 66) and the relics in which the church was very rich, (fn. 67) may have thus (fn. 68) proved a source of income. The size and situation of the Temple, and the power of its occupants, recommended it as a place of residence to other persons besides John. As early as 1192 the archbishop of York had stayed there (fn. 69) on the memorable occasion when he set the rights of Canterbury at defiance by having his cross held erect at Westminster, and the Temple church was suspended by the bishop of London from celebrating divine service in consequence. The association of the Temple with the collection of papal grants (fn. 70) in this country may have been an additional inducement to Master Martin, the notorious papal agent, to take up his abode there, 1244–5. (fn. 71) The ambassadors of the king of Castille were also lodged there in 1255, (fn. 72) when the apartments of Sanchez, the bishop-elect of Toledo, (fn. 73) must have presented a curious contrast to those of the brethren.
The Templars under Edward I hardly appear to have maintained the dominating position they had held during the last two reigns in the affairs of the crown. Guy de Foresta, the master of the Temple, is certainly represented as going to Scotland on the king's business in 1273; (fn. 74) the New Temple is mentioned as a royal treasury in 1274 and 1276, (fn. 75) and the Temple treasurer as the receiver of the tallage of London in 1274; (fn. 76) Hugh, the visitor-general of the order, was moreover appointed by the king in 1299 (fn. 77) to repay the Friscobaldi for a loan. But instances of this sort were now rare, where before they were frequent, the Italian merchants taking their place in the royal finance, and the mendicant orders in diplomacy and other business. Yet the king's robbery of part of the treasure there in 1283 (fn. 78) shows that as a place of deposit for valuables its popularity was still unrivalled or it would not have been singled out for this distinction, though a severe shock must then have been given to the credit it had hitherto deservedly (fn. 79) enjoyed.
The decline of interest in crusades, the fall of Acre, and loss of the Holy Land in 1291, and the rise of new religious orders, would all tend to decrease the gifts made to the Templars, but these were numerous (fn. 80) enough during the last years of Edward I to prove that the knights were still regarded with favour by many. There were absolutely no signs of the storm which was so soon to overwhelm them.
On 13 October, 1307, the Templars in France were all arrested by King Philip. (fn. 81) Edward II, far from crediting the accusations made against them, at first expressed himself strongly in their favour. (fn. 82) But on the receipt of a letter from Pope Clement V in November, (fn. 83) he abandoned their cause, and on 8 January, the Templars in England were by his order suddenly seized and imprisoned. (fn. 84) The process before the papal inquisitors, Deodatus, abbot of Lagny, and Sicard de Vaur, canon of Narbonne, did not begin until 20 October, 1309. (fn. 85) The charges may be summed up as blasphemy, apostasy, idolatry, and heresy: they were said to deny Christ at their reception into the order, to trample the cross under foot and spit on the crucifix, to adore the image of a cat, to believe that the grand master and the preceptors, many of whom were laymen, could absolve them from their sins, to make sacrilegious mockery of absolution, and to be guilty of the vilest immorality. (fn. 86) Misconception of symbolic ceremonies may account for some of the accusations, most of which, however, cannot be explained in this way, and seem too improbable to be true, (fn. 87) since it is difficult to see how such acts imputed, not to a few individuals, but to the whole body, could have long remained undiscovered, especially when the hospitality exercised at the various houses is remembered. The examination lasted until 18 March, 1310, (fn. 88) but elicited nothing derogatory to the order. The king then, urged by the pope, ordered the constable of the Tower to deliver his prisoners to the sheriffs of London (fn. 89) to be disposed of by them in various places in the City so that the inquisitors might have easy access to them. (fn. 90) In spite of the tortures inflicted, only three, of whom one, John de Stoke, (fn. 91) appears to have been the treasurer of the New Temple, confessed the truth of the articles. Testimony obtained by torture is always doubtful, and that given voluntarily must on this occasion be regarded with suspicion, for it was supplied by secular priests, monks and friars, (fn. 92) the enemies and rivals of the accused, (fn. 93) and even then it was often mere hearsay. The majority of the Templars, among them those of the New Temple, acknowledged themselves guilty of heresy, especially as to the efficacy of the absolution given by the master, submitted, and were reconciled to the Church. (fn. 94) The master, William de la More, however, refused to confess crimes of which he was innocent, (fn. 95) and remained in the Tower until his death. (fn. 96)
The number of Templars belonging to the New Temple at the time of their arrest may have been thirteen, (fn. 97) excluding the master. Of these, three were serving brethren, two, brothers, John de Stoke was treasurer, Michael de Baskervile, preceptor, and Ralph de Barton, priest, prior and warden of the chapel. (fn. 98) Some of these probably survived the suppression of the order in 1312 to subsist as best they could, for the pensions of 4d. a day were not regularly paid, (fn. 99) until they were received into various monasteries. (fn. 100)
The Templars at the time of the suppression owned in London and the neighbourhood the manor of Cranford (fn. 101) which had been given to them by John de Cranford, (fn. 102) the manor of Lilestone or Lisson Green (fn. 103) granted by Otho son of William in 1237, (fn. 104) lands in Hampstead and Hendon belonging to that manor, (fn. 105) the manor of Hampton the gift of Lady Joan Grey, (fn. 106) and land in Hampton and 'Wyke' given by Cristiana Haiwode; (fn. 107) pastureland in Isleworth, (fn. 108) meadowland in Hackney, co. Middlesex, (fn. 109) a tenement at Charing, (fn. 110) which appears to have been granted by Gilbert Basset before 1185; (fn. 111) tenements in Southwark valued in 1308 at £6 9s. 8d. net per annum; (fn. 112) lands and rents in the parishes of St. Clement Danes, (fn. 113) St. Dunstan West, (fn. 114) where they had a holding in the 12th century, (fn. 115) St. Bride, (fn. 116) St. Mary Somerset, (fn. 117) St. Sepulchre, (fn. 118) a messuage in 'Godrunlane' in the parish of St. John Zachary, the bequest of John de Valescines in 1256, (fn. 119) and a tenement in Holborn, (fn. 120) and a quay and mills on the Fleet, (fn. 121) probably the most valuable of their property in London. They seem to have received a further grant of land here shortly after 1185, since the gift of Walter son of Robert of land under Castle Baynard is not mentioned in the return to the inquisition of Fitz Stephen. (fn. 122)
The rents from the property in the City and suburbs alone from 10 January to Michaelmas, 1308, amounted to over £50, although deductions were made for tenements unoccupied. (fn. 123) The principal possession of the order in London was of course the New Temple itself, which is constantly referred to as a manor, (fn. 124) and from the size of the buildings (fn. 125) and extent of the ground (fn. 126) well deserved the term. The church contained altars to St. Nicholas and St. John besides the high altar, and appears to have been well provided with books, (fn. 127) plate and ornaments (fn. 128) of silver, silver gilt, ivory and crystal, altar-cloths and frontals and vestments.
The Temple was granted by the king to Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, but Thomas, earl of Lancaster, claiming it as his fee, Aymer de Valence surrendered it to him on 1 October, 1314. (fn. 129) On the execution of Lancaster the manor again fell to the crown, and was made over a second time to Aymer de Valence in 1322, (fn. 130) but when he died without issue in 1324 it lapsed to the king according to the terms of the grant. The bull of Pope Clement V granting the lands of the Templars to the Knights Hospitallers (fn. 131) had been unheeded in England, but after the statute to the same effect in 1324 (fn. 132) the knights of St. John were put in possession of the Temple with a great deal of the other property of the late order. It seems probable that they already held the consecrated portions such as the church and cemetery, since the claim of the prior to some houses erected by him on a portion of this ground, which had been seized by the younger Despenser, and escheated to the crown after his forfeiture in 1326, was evidently quite distinct from his right to the other portion of the manor. (fn. 133) William de Langford, to whom the king had let the Temple, had part of his rent remitted for giving up these tenements, (fn. 134) and in June, 1338, Edward III made a grant of the whole manor to the Hospital in frankalmoign. (fn. 135) The history of the Temple as a religious house however had really ended with the fall of the original owners. The prior of Clerkenwell appointed one of his brothers to keep the church, and the allowance to him and the other chaplains figures in the expenses of the Knights of St. John in 1328. (fn. 136) The accounts of 1338 show that there were then eight chaplains besides the warden, and that these eight were not of the order of St. John, but seculars like the thirteen who served the church in the time of the Templars. (fn. 137)
In 1338 a definite sum was allotted to the warden, but the next year Ficketsfield and Cotells Garden were assigned him by the prior for his maintenance, and that of the lights and services of the church. (fn. 138)
The priests needed only part of the Temple buildings, and the others were let to the lawyers by the priory, it is said, in 1347, (fn. 139) at any rate about the middle of the fourteenth century.
The prior of Clerkenwell occurs twice in an interesting connexion with the Temple: in 1373, when he was engaged in a dispute with the City over a right-of-way through the Temple Gate to the Temple Bridge; (fn. 140) and in 1381, when the rebels did a great deal of damage out of hatred to the same Prior Robert Hales, then the king's treasurer. (fn. 141)
At the suppression of the order of Knights Hospitallers in England by Henry VIII in 1540 the New Temple, which in 1535 had been valued at £162 11s., (fn. 142) passed to the crown. (fn. 143)
The master of the Temple and chaplains were still, however, allowed their stipends, and retained their posts, and a lease made by the master in 1542 of a messuage, and the master's lodging adjoining the church, stipulated that the four priests of the Temple should have two chambers in the house. (fn. 144)
The re-establishment of the order by Mary seems to have made no change at the Temple, except that the rent of £10 due from the two societies of lawyers was again paid to the prior, for Ermested, who had been master in 1540, continued to hold office. (fn. 145) When Elizabeth succeeded provision was made for the payment of the master, four priests, and the clerk, as in the last year of Edward VI, but how long the staff of priests was maintained it is difficult to say. There are no further references to them, though they seem to have been there in Stow's time. (fn. 146)
Masters of the Temple
Richard de Hastyngs, 1160 (fn. 147)
Richard Mallebeench (fn. 148)
Geoffrey son of Stephen, occurs 1180 (fn. 149) and 1185 (fn. 150)
William de Newenham (fn. 151)
Thomas Berard, occurs 1200 (fn. 152)
Aymeric de St. Maur, occurs 1200, (fn. 153) 1205, and 1216. (fn. 154) He died abroad (fn. 155)
Alan Marcell, occurs 1220 (fn. 156) and 1228 (fn. 157)
Amberaldus, occurs 1229 (fn. 158)
Robert Mounford, occurs 1234 (?) (fn. 159)
Robert Saunforde, occurs 1231, 1232, (fn. 160) 1234, (fn. 161) 1239–40, (fn. 162) and 1247 (fn. 163)
Rocelin de Fosse, occurs 1250–1, (fn. 164) 1253 (fn. 165)
Amadeus de Morestello, occurs 1254, (fn. 166) and 1258–9 (fn. 167)
Imbert Peraut, occurs 1267 (fn. 168) and 1269 (fn. 169)
William de Beaulieu, occurs 1274 (fn. 170)
Robert Turvile, occurs 1277, (fn. 171) 1281, (fn. 172) 1285–6, (fn. 173) and 1289 (fn. 174)
Guy de Foresta, occurs 1290, (fn. 175) 1293, (fn. 176) and 1294 (fn. 177)
James de Molay, occurs 1297 (fn. 178)
Brian le Jay, occurs 1298, (fn. 179) died 1298 (fn. 180)
William de la More, occurs 1298, (fn. 181) and at the suppression
Preceptors of London
William de Bernewode, occurs temp. Geoffrey
Fitz Stephen (fn. 182)
Alan, occurs 1205 (fn. 183) and 1221 (fn. 184)
Ralph de Leukeworth, occurs 1232 (fn. 185)
Ranulph de Bremesgrave, occurs 1272 (fn. 186)
Richard de Herdewyk, occurs 1294 (fn. 187)
John de Mohun, occurs c. 1296 (fn. 188)
Ralph de Barton, c. 1300 (fn. 189)
Michael de Baskervile, occurs 1303 (fn. 190) and 1308 (fn. 191)
Wardens under the Knights Hospitallers
Hugh de Lichfield, occurs 1339 (fn. 192)
John Almayn, occurs 1374 (fn. 193)
John Bartylby, occurs 1378–9 (fn. 194)
John Burford, occurs 1380–1 (fn. 195)
William Ermested, occurs 1540 and 1542; died 1560 (fn. 196)
There is a seal attached to a charter of the twelfth century. (fn. 197) It is light brown in colour, and has on the left a representation of the Agnus Dei. Legend:—
The seal (fn. 198) of Robert de Saunford, master of the Temple c. 1241, is dark green, and bears on the right an Agnus Dei with nimbus. Legend:—
The obverse of a seal used by William de la More, master, 1304, (fn. 199) resembles the above. The reverse, a small oval counter-seal, with beaded borders, shows on the right a couped bust of a bearded man wearing a cap. Legend:—
TESTIS SVM AGNI
There is also a seal of the preceptor or master 1303. (fn. 200) It is dark green, and represents a crescent inclosing a cross formy fitchy; below, a lion passant of England, and between two stars. Legend:—
S' PRECEPTOR' MILI . . . T . . .