Knights Templar

The Grand Priory of Knights Templar in the United Kingdom


St. Hugh of Lincoln - East Midlands, East and North-East of England

St. Hugh of Lincoln - East Midlands, East and North-East of England

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The Preceptory of St. Hugh is the one of the Preceptories of the Grand Priory.

Due to the geographic scale of the Preceptory area, events are planned all over the region from North Yorkshire and the Cheviots to the Pennines in the Midlands and South towards Suffolk and the Thames. Working alongside fellow Templars from throughout the country, the East of England Preceptory aims to bring a modern and relevant Christian message to its many followers.

Templar History in the area.

The North East of England was a particularly important area for the Templars. After the 1066 invasion and the colonisation of the Anglo Saxon lands, the Normans re-organised agriculture, establishing feudal tithes and taxation as well as manorial ownership. This was further consolidated within the Domesday Book where every habitation was listed by feudal landlord, free person and tenant.

Over the successive years after the Domesday book their French influence was felt everywhere and in this region there was healthy trade with Northern Europe from the East Coast ports. In those days many of these ports were well inland when looking at a modern map. For instance, the port of Boston didn't really exist until many of the wetlands were drained centuries later and marsh lands filled the huge basin to the West of what is now known as the Wash. These are now the Lincolnshire Fens, around Boston from which the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from in the 1600's for the New World.

By the time the French lords of the manor had properly settled in the North East of England, they had turned heath land into pasture and cultivated crops. Animal husbandry included huge sheep flocks that provide valuable wool that served both the domestic and export markets.

One such lord of a manor was William d'Escherbie who donated lands on the Lincolnshire heath to the emergent Knights Templar. He was one of the leading founders of the Temple Bruer Preceptory and apart from the religious significance of the site, it was a point of call on the perilous East West crossing from the Midlands to Norfolk. This was the very same route on which King John lost his treasure around the Wash marshlands and within days, had died from mysterious causes in nearby Newark.
William built a manor house that was further expanded as his sons took over his estates and many years later the Escherbie name was anglicised to Ashby. Even later in the family history by marriage to the de la Laundes and the village of Ashby de la Launde was so named.

The Temple Bruer Preceptory rose to become the second most wealthy in England, only behind that of London. The fertile lands were ideal for sheep grazing and the grant of a Wednesday market further enhanced the Templars fast growing wealth. That wealth was needed to fund the series of Crusades and by having the unique Papal dispensation, freeing Templars of taxes and tithes, their demise was assured as they became more and more powerful and wealthy.
By the time the Templars were arrested, the Grand Prior of England was seized at Temple Bruer, and incarcerated in Lincoln Castle with the trials held in the Chapter House of Lincoln Cathedral. Unlike the European torture and execution of the Templars, the English response was a lot kinder and many Templars had the choice of change of allegiance to the Knights Hospitaller, cessation of membership or imprisonment. Some of the finest prisoner carvings in Europe can be seen to this day in Lincoln Castle.

In the meantime, Templar Bruer continued as a Hospitaller site up to the time when Henry VIII destroyed the monasteries and religious houses of England. Temple Bruer was raised to the ground, as were many other religious sites. Not much remains today apart from a single tower.

The lanes of the East coast are still criss-crossed by drover's lanes as sheep were herded to the Eastern ports. That is clearly celebrated when Edward III created the Woolsack in Parliament in the 1300's as symbolic of wool's importance in the England of the day.
Temple Bruer was central in a community of Templar sites right across Lincolnshire and other Eastern counties had similar communities interdependent on each other. There is no doubt that the Templars had significant influence on the agricultural and commercial success of this country and export trade flourished for many centuries afterwards.

The Preceptory of St. Hugh's domain is full of religious sites of huge significance to all denominations and monasteries still exist following all manner of worship.