House of Knights Templar: The preceptory of Templecombe

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'House of Knights Templar: The preceptory of Templecombe', in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2, (London, 1911) pp. 146-147. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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The vill of Combe was shared at the time of the Domesday 1086 (fn. 1) by the Benedictine Nunnery of Shaftesbury and Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of the Conqueror. The subtenant of the bishop's share of the district was Samson the chaplain. In 1185 this manor was held by Serlo Fitz Odo, and he granted it in that year to the Knights Templars. The two manors thus became known as Combe Abbatissa and Combe Templariorum. The parish church which served the tenants of both was in the manor of the Templars. Nothing is known of the history of the Templars here, but their house ranked as a Preceptory or Commandery and was the only one in the county of Somerset.

In 1241 (fn. 2) the Templars of 'Westcumbeland' were put at the mercy of the Court for receiving William son of Adam Crestred who was suspected of larceny and had been outlawed.

In 1256 (fn. 3) a case of unlawful disseisin came before Sir Henry de Bracton sitting in assize. It was brought by the master of the Knights Templars against William de Stures of Worle. The Templars declared that William de Stures had given all his lands and tenements at Worle to the Master of the Knights of the Temple of Solomon in England. In defence Stures said that whilst he was staying at a certain manor of the said master and brethren at Combe, the Templars forced his seal from him and made what charter they wished while he was helpless to resist them. The jury however refused to believe his petition and gave a verdict for the master and the Templars.

In 1258 (fn. 4) Nigel de Kingescot brought an action against brother Amblard, Master of the Knights Templars of England, for the manor of Combe, but allowed the master's right to it on receipt of 30 marks.

In 1307 Pope Clement IV, under the influence of Philip IV of France, issued a mandate to the Kings of England and France, calling on them to arrest on a given day all the members of this order who happened to be in their kingdoms. In England there was great unwillingness to accept as true the charges that were made against the Templars, but on 8 January 1309 all the Templars were suddenly arrested, and by the autumn they had been collected in London. The examination began on 21 October 1309 (fn. 5) and the first of the prisoners examined was William Raven of the preceptory of Templecombe. He said he had been a Templar for fifteen years and had been received by William de la More, and his witnesses and sponsors were John de Walpole and William de Erynge, and he stated also that on his admission there were a hundred lay people present to witness the ceremony. The official interrogations referred to most abominable acts, apostasy and even to a charge of worshipping a cat. Raven denied any secret or abominable crimes and said that on admission he was sworn to observe the rules of obedience, poverty and chastity, and that he would not lay hands on any man except in self-defence or in war against the Saracens. The trial lasted for two years, and in 1312 the Order was everywhere suppressed and the property of the Templars was handed over, 28 November 1313, (fn. 6) to the Knights Hospitallers. William de Burton the preceptor of Combe, John de Aley and Walter de Rokele knights at Combe, were committed to the Tower, (fn. 7) and generally those Templars who survived were assigned to various monastic houses to spend in confinement there the rest of their days. In Bishop Drokensford's Register in 1315 (fn. 8) we have an entry of payments made through him by the sheriff to the Abbots of Glastonbury and Muchelney and the Priors of Taunton and Montacute for the maintenance there of four Templars, William de Warwyk, William de Grandcombe, Richard Engayne and Richard de Colingham. The payment was for their keep for the last sixty-nine days.


  • 1. V.C.H. Somers. i, 445, 470.
  • 2. Somers. Pleas (Somers, Rec. Soc. xi), 320.
  • 3. Somers. Pleas (Somers. Rec. Soc. xi), 400.
  • 4. Somers. Feet of F. (Somers Rec. Soc. vi) 202.
  • 5. Wilkins, Conc. ii, 334.
  • 6. Cal. Pat. 1313–17, p. 52.
  • 7. Wilkins, Conc. ii, 347.
  • 8. Drokensford's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc. i) 98.