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Remains of preceptory church, Temple Bruer

A Scheduled Monument in Temple Bruer with Temple High Grange, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0711 / 53°4'16"N

Longitude: -0.4964 / 0°29'46"W

OS Eastings: 500839.739396

OS Northings: 353713.389215

OS Grid: TF008537

Mapcode National: GBR FPQ.FB8

Mapcode Global: WHGJZ.B2WF

Entry Name: Remains of preceptory church, Temple Bruer

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Last Amended: 27 June 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007686

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22609

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Temple Bruer with Temple High Grange

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Wellingore All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of the church of the Knights Templars'
preceptory founded at Temple Bruer in the mid-12th century. Following its
suppression in 1312 the preceptory passed to the Knights Hospitallers and was
re-etablished as a commandery of that order before its final dissolution in
1540-1. The church, with round nave, chancel and pair of flanking towers, fell
into disrepair in the 16th century. The last standing remains of the nave
finally disappeared in the 18th century, and the only part of the church now
surviving above ground is the late 12th/early 13th century tower which stood
on the south side of the chancel. The monument therefore includes the
standing remains of the tower which are Listed Grade I and the buried remains
of the nave and other parts of the church.

The surviving tower stands in an area of domestic garden behind the Grade II
Listed Temple Farmhouse. It is a rectangular, stone-built structure of three
storeys resting on a large chamfered plinth and reaches a height of over 16m.
The plinth, of limestone ashlar, is of original construction on all sides
except the north where it is of modern rubble. On this side the tower was
formerly joined to the chancel at ground-floor level with a crypt beneath. The
bottom storey of the tower is also of limestone ashlar; the floor is
approximately 1m above ground level and the original round-headed doorway,
which formerly led from the chancel into the tower, is now reached by a flight
of modern stone steps. On the east side of the doorway is a double piscina
which once served the high altar. At the western end of the same wall is a
triple-shafted respond for an arch over the chancel, at the point where an
earlier build met a later extension. Springing from the respond are the
remains of three chamfered ribs, and three further ribs rise from a stone
corbel above the doorway. These indicate the position of the chancel's
ribvault. The full length of this wall, from the piscina to the respond, is
marked by joist holes cut into the stonework for an agricultural building
which was added to the outside of tower in the post-medieval period. The jambs
of the tower doorway are bowed where the stonework has been cut away to allow
equipment to pass through.

The north doorway gives access to the interior of the tower via a modern
wooden door. The bottom storey is occupied by a single ribvaulted chamber
with a window in each of the east, south and west walls. Those in the east
and west are single-light lancets in the Transitional style of the late 12th/
early 13th centuries. A similar opening in the south wall has been cut by a
later, 14th century, window of two lights which contains the remains of
Perpendicular tracery. This window is both taller and wider than the
original, a fragment of which survives in the stonework above. Immediately
below the window, and destroying the bottom of it, is a post-medieval doorway
cut through the medieval fabric and subsequently blocked by rubble. The jambs
of the doorway survive, as does the worn stone below it which served as a
sill. The insertion of the doorway also destroyed part of the elaborately
carved blind arcading which runs along the south and west walls of the
interior of the ground-floor chamber. Beneath the arcading is a stone bench
which originally stepped up three bays from the east end to form a double
sedilia and piscina; the cutting of the doorway has removed part of the
sedilia. In the east wall of the chamber is a shallow altar recess, now
partly broken away and rebuilt with architectural fragments discovered during
the early 20th century excavations of the church. Sections of a round pillar,
now resting on the modern concrete floor, were found in 1908 built into the
former brick floor. Further fragments removed to this chamber include a
damaged stone effigy of a knight. The chamber clearly served as a side-chapel
to the main body of the church, with seating for the chaplains and other
members of the order. The north western corner of the tower is occupied by a
newel staircase rising through three storeys.

The east, south and west walls of the tower's first-floor chamber are
constructed of ashlar, each with a single-light lancet and round hood. The
north wall, which formerly overlooked the steeply pitched chancel roof and was
thus largely invisible from the ground, is built of rubble and has no
openings. On the interior of each wall is a pair of arched ribs, and in each
of three corners a stone corbel from which the fragments of further ribs
spring. These represent the remains of a ribvault, now destroyed.
This chamber is thus open through the second storey to the roof, a wooden
structure of the early 20th century, hipped and tiled with deeply overhanging
eaves. The second storey, which is much shorter than the lower two, has been
largely rebuilt. It is constructed of rubble with a small rectangular opening
in each of the east, south and west faces. The present roof is both wider and
lower than the original, which was constructed within stone battlements of
which only the south-western corner survives.

The external south western and south eastern corners of the tower are each
ornamented with a pair of flat buttresses which extend though the full height
of the building. On the north eastern corner, where the tower adjoined the
chancel, there is a flat buttress on the east wall, marked with the roof-line
of the chancel; on the north wall is a shortened projecting buttress which
begins at first-floor level with a decorative moulded bracket. At the north
end of the west wall is a similar projecting buttress, immediately above an
area of rough stonework where the chancel bonded into the tower. Here the
roof-line of the chancel is again evident. Two further scars in the west wall
represent the roof-lines of a south chapel added between the tower and nave in
the 14th century. The exterior of the tower is additionally decorated with
four horizontal chamfered bands, running along the top of the medieval plinth
and below most of the ground-, first- and second-floor windows.

To the north and west of the tower is an area of flat ground, now occupied
by a lawn, farmbuildings, a paved yard and a gravelled car park. This is the
site of the nave, chancel and north tower of the preceptory church, the
foundations of which were archaeologically excavated in 1833 and 1908. The
north wall of the existing tower was found to overlie the foundations of an
earlier, mid-12th century apsidal chancel with a vaulted crypt beneath, and a
slightly later, square-ended extension. To the north were the foundations of
a second tower, added at the same time as the chancel extension.

To the west, in the area of the present car park, were identified the remains
of a mid-12th century circular aisled nave with steps leading down to the
crypt. Yet further west were the foundations of a later porch. To the north of
both the nave and porch, stone-lined graves have been discovered, indicating
the location of part of the preceptory cemetery. The area between the nave,
chancel and south tower is the site of the large south chapel added in the
14th century. In the north western corner of the site is a buried petrol tank
sunk in the 1940s, at which time the effigy slab now in the tower was

The Knights Templars' preceptory at Temple Bruer was founded around 1150 with
grants of land from William of Ashby, an adjacent parish out of which the
estate was first established. The preceptory became the chief of five Templar
houses in Lincolnshire, functioning as an agricultural estate centre from
which a large number of Templar properties in the county were managed. In 1308
it was the second wealthiest preceptory in England, with a weekly market and a
substantial secular settlement outside the precinct walls. After the
Dissolution the estate was sold to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and
survived as a unit until 1935 when it was divided by Lord Londesborough.
The area of the preceptory precinct has continued in use to the present day as
a working farm.

The present tower was partially restored in the early 20th century and again
in 1961. Since 1962 it has been the subject of a guardianship agreement with
the County Council through which public access is freely permitted. Excluded
from the scheduling are the petrol tank and pump, iron fence, concrete paving,
yard wall and outbuildings, but the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A preceptory is a monastery of the military orders of Knights Templars and
Knights Hospitallers (also known as the Knights of St John of Jerusalem). At
least one preceptory of the Knights of St Lazarus is also known to have
existed in England. Preceptories were founded to raise revenues to fund the
12th and 13th century crusades to Jerusalem. In the 15th century the
Hospitallers directed their revenue toward defending Rhodes from the Turks. In
addition, the preceptories of the Templars functioned as recruiting and
training barracks for the knights whilst those of the Hospitallers provided
hospices which offered hospitality to pilgrims and travellers and distributed
alms to the poor. Lazarine preceptories had leper hospitals attached. Like
other monastic sites, the buildings of preceptories included provision for
worship and communal living. Their most unusual feature was the round nave of
their major churches which was copied from that of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem. Indeed their use of such circular churches was unique in medieval
England. Other buildings might include hospital buildings, workshops or
agricultural buildings. These were normally arranged around a central open
space, and were often enclosed within a moat or bank and ditch. From available
documentary sources it can be estimated that the Templars held 57 preceptories
in England. At least 14 of these were later taken over by the Hospitallers,
who held 76 sites. As a relatively rare monument class, all sites exhibiting
good survival of archaeological remains will be identified as nationally

The site of the Knights Templars preceptory at Temple Bruer is rare among
examples of the monument class in including standing remains; the south tower
of the preceptory church stands to a height of over 16m, most of which is
original stonework. Archaeological excavation over a large area of the
monument has both demonstrated the survival of below-ground remains of the
church and provided an increased understanding of the site, while leaving
intact buried architectural remains and valuable underlying deposits. A high
level of archaeological, as well as historical, documentation is thus
available for this monument. With the provision of public access the monument
also serves as an important educational and recreational resource.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 295,307
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 212-213
Buck, Samuel , 'Archaeologia' in The North View of Temple Bruer in the Middle of the Great Heath, (1726)
Hope St John, W H, 'Archaeologia: Volume LXI' in The Round Church of the Knights Templars at Temple Bruer, Lincs., (1908), 177-198
text for exhibition/booklet, Mills, Dennis R., The Knights Templar in Kesteven, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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