Templar Buildings In England You Must Visit

Templar Buildings In England You Must Visit

Steeped in mystery and intrigue, the Knights Templar was a medieval military order that played a crucial role in the Crusades. They left a significant mark on history and the architecture of the places they inhabited. England, in particular, is home to several incredible Templar structures, a testimony to the order’s powerful presence in the 12th and 13th centuries. This article explores some of England’s most notable Templar buildings that every history enthusiast and tourist must visit.

Where Were the Templars in England?

The Knights Templar, a renowned medieval Christian military order, had a significant presence in England. Their influence in the country began around 1128 when the Templars’ founder, Hugh de Payens, visited to seek financial support for the order. His efforts bore fruit, and many properties were donated to the Templars, leading to the establishment of several preceptories or estates across England.

Templar preceptories were scattered throughout the country, but several key locations stand out. The order’s English headquarters were in London at the Temple Church in the Inner and Middle Temple area. This iconic round church is a testament to the Templars’ architectural influence.

Other significant Templar sites include the Cressing Temple in Essex, one of England’s earliest and largest Templar estates. Temple Balsall in West Midlands and Temple Bruer in Lincolnshire were also major Templar sites, with the latter still bearing traces of the Templars’ distinctive architectural style.

The village of Templecombe in Somerset also holds historical significance. It is believed to be the site of a former Templar preceptory, and a mysterious medieval painting discovered here, known as the Templecombe Head, is linked to the Knights Templar.

Ultimately, the Knights Templar had a broad and lasting presence across England, from the heart of London to the peaceful countryside of Somerset and Lincolnshire. The remaining Templar buildings and artifacts continue to provide fascinating insights into this enigmatic order’s life and work. 

Temple Church, London

Our first stop is the Temple Church, a historic place of worship located between Fleet Street and the River Thames. It was built in the late 12th century by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. The church is renowned for its distinctive round nave, a characteristic of early Templar architecture that symbolizes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The Temple Church is also famous for its effigy tombs, including those of notable figures like William Marshal 1st Earl of Pembroke. Visitors will appreciate the richly layered history, stunning architectural details, and the serene atmosphere of this magnificent church.

Cressing Temple Barns, Essex

Next are the Cressing Temple Barns, which were given to the Knights Templar in 1137. This site is home to the oldest timber-framed barns in the world, known as the Wheat Barn and Barley Barn. These remarkable structures reveal the advanced building techniques of the time.

While there, don’t miss the Tudor walled garden, which has been carefully reconstructed based on historical records. The garden is serene, perfect for enjoying a quiet afternoon after exploring the ancient barns.

Temple Balsall, West Midlands

Temple Balsall in the West Midlands offers a mix of Templar, Hospitaller, and more recent history. The Templars established a preceptory here in the 12th century. When they were dissolved, the estate passed to the Knights Hospitaller, another medieval military order.

The 14th-century St Mary’s Church is a must-see, with its striking blend of architectural styles. The Old Hall, presumably the guest hall of the original preceptory, is another highlight, offering insight into the living conditions of the Knights Templar.

Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire

At Temple Bruer, you’ll find one of the few remaining parts of a Knights Templar preceptory in England. The impressive tower stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of the Templars. The tower’s intricate carvings, including symbols often associated with the Templars, such as the “agony point” or pentangle, make it a fascinating site to explore.

There’s a distinct sense of history and mystery at Temple Bruer, as there’s still much about the site that we don’t know. Archaeological digs and studies are ongoing, meaning you might get to witness history being unveiled!

Templecombe, Somerset

Our final stop is Templecombe in Somerset. The village is famous for its 12th-century painting, known as the Templecombe Head, believed to have been created by a member of the Knights Templar. It’s one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the existence of the Templars in England and is on display at St Mary’s Church.

Additionally, the village itself is said to sit on the site of a former Templar preceptory, and you can find hints of this past in the landscape and local buildings.

What Happened to the English Templars?

The Knights Templar, once among the most powerful entities in medieval Europe, faced a rapid downfall in the early 14th century. The Templars in England, like their brethren across Europe, were dramatically affected by these events.

King Philip IV of France, deeply indebted to the Templars and suspicious of their secretive ways, initiated the downfall of the order. On Friday, October 13, 1307, a date that would go down in infamy, the king ordered a mass arrest of the Templars in France, accusing them of heresy and other serious charges.

In England, however, the reaction was initially less severe. King Edward II, who enjoyed close ties with the Templars, was reluctant to follow Philip’s lead. However, under pressure from the Pope and the French king, he eventually gave in. In January 1308, he issued orders to arrest the Templars in England.

The Templars were put on trial, with many subjected to torture. Still, unlike France, there were no mass burnings, and the interrogations were less brutal. In 1312, under the orders of Pope Clement V, the Knights Templar were officially dissolved.

The English Templars’ properties were handed over to the Knights Hospitaller, another Christian military order. As for the individual Templars, many were allowed to retire to monastic orders or live out their lives in peace, albeit stripped of their previous power and status. The Templars’ grand influence in England had come to a sudden end, leaving behind a rich legacy of mystery and fascination.

Where Are the Knights Templar Buried in the UK?

The Knights Templar were a secretive and powerful order during the medieval period, and this extends even to their burial practices. Unfortunately, many of their burial sites have been lost or destroyed over the centuries. Despite this, some reputed burial locations of the Knights Templar in the UK still exist.

Temple Church, London: One of the most famous Templar burial sites is the Temple Church in London. Known for its round nave and distinctive architecture, the church houses several tombs of knights, although it’s uncertain how many were Templars. The stone effigies of knights in the church, notably that of William Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke, are of particular interest.

Royston Cave, Hertfordshire: Another potential Templar burial site, although speculative, is Royston Cave. The man-made cave features wall carvings that are believed by some to have been created by the Knights Templar. Theories suggest the cave might have been used for secret meetings or even as a burial site, although this hasn’t been definitively proven.

Temple Balsall, West Midlands: This former Templar estate has a graveyard associated with its 14th-century St. Mary’s Church, which could potentially contain Templar burials. Yet, the specific identities of those interred are not known.

While it’s difficult to definitively pinpoint where all the Knights Templar were buried in the UK, it’s clear that they preferred places of significance to their order. Each of these sites gives us a glimpse into the Templars’ world, capturing our imagination with their enduring aura of mystery and intrigue. It’s important to note that respectful behavior is a must when visiting these historic sites, as they are not just places of interest but final resting places too. 

Templar Legacy in England

The legacy of the Knights Templar in England is significant and enduring. Though their physical presence abruptly ended in the 14th century, their influence is still palpable in various forms.

Architectural Legacy

One of the most tangible legacies left by the Templars is their architectural impact. Notable structures like the Temple Church in London provide insights into the unique Templar architectural style. The church, built in a round format to symbolize the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, is a prime example of Templar influence.

Similarly, Cressing Temple in Essex, with its historic barns, highlights the Templars’ prowess in construction techniques, providing a unique glimpse into medieval English architecture.

Legal and Educational Legacy

The Knights Templar’s London enclave, known as the Temple, became an influential center for the law after the Templars’ dissolution. Today, it’s home to two of England’s most eminent legal institutions, the Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court. Hence, the Templars indirectly contributed to shaping the country’s legal tradition. 

Moreover, the order’s rigorous record-keeping and administrative skills have offered historians a treasure trove of information about medieval life, helping shape our understanding of this period.

Cultural Legacy

The Templars’ legendary status in popular culture has inspired countless novels, movies, and video games. They’re often depicted as protectors of the Holy Grail or bearers of other religious secrets, adding to the mystique around them.

The Templar legacy also lives on in the numerous local legends and folklore associated with places they once inhabited. With its enigmatic carvings, sites such as Royston Cave in Hertfordshire continue to fuel the public’s fascination with the Templars.

Ultimately, the Knights Templar’s influence in England extends beyond their historical existence. Their architectural, legal, and cultural legacy continues to captivate the minds of scholars, history enthusiasts, and the general public, ensuring the Templars’ place in England’s rich tapestry of history.

Modern Templar Organizations in England

Today, several organizations in England identify with the legacy of the Knights Templar, either through shared values or by direct claim of descent. These modern Templar organizations range from charitable bodies and Masonic orders to historical societies. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

The United Religious, Military, and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes, and Malta

More commonly known as the Knights Templar within Freemasonry, this group is part of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Despite the Templar name, the Masonic Knights Templar has no proven historical connection to the original Knights Templar. However, they share a fascination with Templar history and incorporate Templar symbols and rituals in their practices.

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (OSMTH)

The OSMTH, also known as Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, is a Christian organization that identifies with the ideals of the original Knights Templar, such as chivalry, charity, and the protection of Christian values. Their activities include humanitarian aid and interfaith dialogue. They have a Grand Priory in England, among others worldwide.

The Temple Church

The Temple Church, originally built by the Knights Templar in London, continues to function as a place of worship and is maintained by two of England’s legal societies, the Inner and Middle Temples. While not a Templar organization per se, it holds a crucial part of Templar history and serves as a living link to the medieval past.

Templar History Societies

Numerous local history societies in England focus on researching and preserving Templar history and heritage. These include the Royston Cave preservation trust and various societies associated with places like Temple Balsall and Temple Bruer.

In the end, the legacy of the Knights Templar endures in England through modern organizations, which either strive to keep the Templar heritage alive or draw inspiration from their ideals and traditions. However, it’s essential to recognize that these groups, while inspired by the Templars, are distinct from the original medieval order.


The Templar buildings in England offer an intriguing glimpse into the world of the medieval Knights Templar. These structures bear witness to the architectural ingenuity, religious devotion, and dramatic history of the order. Each site, whether it be the haunting beauty of the Temple Church or the enduring strength of the Cressing Temple Barns, transports visitors back in time, providing a unique connection to the enigmatic Knights Templar. These architectural treasures are not only essential for understanding England’s history but also for appreciating the enduring influence of the Knights Templar.