English Templar estates - origin and sources

"Templar scholars have tended to concentrate on the military aspects of the Order rather than the extent and organisation of their estates in England. Conversely, students of medieval agriculture have concentrated on the records of secular and ecclesiastical estates other than those of the Templars. The Templar estates have fallen between two stools." Until recently.

"Following the conquest of the Holy Land during the First Crusade (1096-1099) "the (...) continued military activity in the Holy Land (...) required the presence of an expensively maintained armed host. To support the crusading movement in the Holy Land funds had to be raised in western Christendom. 

Medieval religious thought saw the quality of life after death as being conditional upon how time on earth had been spent. Central to this belief was the time which a soul spent in purgatory. By donating money or land to religious orders, or, more grandly, founding a monastery, an individual could pay for intercessionary prayers to be said on behalf of them, their antecedents and descendants, so reducing their time in purgatory. As a result, the twelfth century saw a burgeoning of monastic patronage in England (and elsewhere, TN), particularly of the Cistercian Order to which the Templars were closely related. The Templars added a different dimension to religious patronage as a military order of monastic knights in the vanguard of crusading in the Holy Land. (...)"

As for the Templar holdings throughout England, the Inquest of Templar property in England, commissioned in 1185 by Geoffrey FitzStephen, gives a first detailed account. "This remains the only published inquest of Templar holdings in England and, as such, is a starting point for any study of  Templar estates in England. The Report of 1338 was commissioned by Philip de Thame, Prior of the Hospital in England, at the behest of Grand Master Elyan de Villanova. (...) It is an inventory of the  Hospitaller lands in England, including the former Templar properties which had been transferred (after the demise of the Templar Order in England between their arrest on 10 January 1308 and 1338, TN) to the Hospitallers and those which were known not to have been. It is the only primary source detailing Hospitaller property in England until the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535, and as such is crucial to any pursuit of the fate of the Templar estates (...)".

"Central to the research are the accounts pursuant upon the arrest of the Templars on 10 January 1308 and the confiscation of the Order’s property by the King. Three rolls of the King’s Survey survive in The National Archives, namely E 358/18, E 358/19 and E 358/20 which cover the entirety of the Templars’ English province. (...) The significance of the accounts is that they provide a detailed list of the income and expenses of the Templar manors and an inventory at the moment of sequestration. The inventories itemise all that was moveable and saleable. (...)

Livestock are listed by age, gender and state of health. Standing crops are enrolled by acreage; stored grain by volume. All items of valuable deadstock are listed; of particular interest are the inventories of the individual buildings within the domestic range such as the larder and kitchen. In addition, agricultural equipment is itemised besides the contents of a smithy and carpenter’s workshop. Personnel are enrolled by task, few by name. The wealth of information gives a detailed picture of the nature of Templar agricultural practice and estate management in 1308. (...)"

This Templar agricultural practice and estate management will be summarized in following blogs.

This blog quotes from The Templar lands in Lincolnshire in the Early Fourteenth Century, by J.M. Jefferson, thesis submitted to the University of Nottingham for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, July 2016. In 2020 this Thesis was published by Boydell Press; The illustration shows the wheat barn at Cressing Temple, one of the earliest Templar estates in England. Photo by Robert Edwards, source Wikipedia, Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0

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