Shropshire History

Knights Templar &

Knights Hospitaller


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Knights Templar



Templar Knight and Sergeant


The Knights Templar (properly called Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon) were a wealthy order of knights created in 1129 by the Pope (see Wikipedia for a detailed history). The knights wore distinctive white mantles with a red cross over their armour and their original purpose was to protect pilgrims from bandits on their journey to Jerusalem. There were also non-combatant members and these became the first international bankers. Rather than risk carrying large amounts of money on long journeys, people could deposit money at a local Templar church and received a receipt which could be redeemed for cash at any other Templar church throughout Europe and the Holy Land.


The head of the order was called the Grand Master, appointed for life and based in Paris, who oversaw both the order's military efforts in the East and their financial holdings in the West. Europe and the Middle East were split into Provinces, with a Master in charge of each. The Grand Master exercised his authority via Visitors-General, who were knights specially appointed by the Grand Master to visit the different provinces, correct malpractices, introduce new regulations and resolve important disputes. The Visitors-General had the power to remove knights from office and to suspend the Master of the province concerned. The lower ranks of the order consisted of knights, sergeants and chaplains.


The founder of the order, Hugues de Payens, devised a code of behaviour for the order, detailing the types of garments they were to wear and how many horses they could have. As well as the white mantle for knights, the sergeants wore a black tunic with a red cross on the front and a black or brown mantle. Knights could have three horses and sergeants two horses. Knights were also to take their meals in silence, eat meat no more than three times per week and not have physical contact of any kind with women, even members of their own family. Although not an official rule, it became customary for members of the order to wear long and prominent beards.


The Templars built their churches with circular naves, in imitation of the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built on the reputed site of Christ’s empty tomb. One of the Templars’ exemptions was not having to pay tithes (a tenth of income paid to the Church). This was contested in 1179 by the clergy but the pope, Alexander III, allowed them to keep this privilege for newly-cultivated lands. In addition, as they were allowed to own parish churches, they collected tithes in their own right that were due to the parish priest. The Templars were given property by landowners who wanted to support their work in the Holy Land but who could not afford or risk going on crusade themselves. The main function of the Templars’ properties in Britain was to raise money and recruits for their operations in the Middle East. They also had to ensure that some of their income was put aside for repairs to the parish churches entrusted to them and to appoint suitable priests to these churches. Basically, they were acting as a feudal lord.


Several Templars would be living at each of their properties and these included some who had retired from duty, similar to modern Chelsea Pensioners. These aged Templars were in receipt of “corrody”, where they had the right to receive housing, food, etc. Usually, the Templars tried to keep out of local warfare, as they did not wish to waste the money they had collected to help Christians in the Middle East. Quite often they would pay local nobles and officials to protect them against their enemies and to keep the peace. From the mid-12th Century, however, the Templars played an important role in the re-conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, which Muslims from North Africa had conquered in the 8th Century. In addition, it is believed that they assisted King Edward I in the conquest of Wales.


The order’s banking activities made them extremely wealthy and eventually in 1307 King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the order, arrested many of their members in France and tortured them into giving false confessions of sacrilege. They were then burned at the stake and Phillip pressured Pope Clement V to disband the order. As a result, Pope Clement instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. Phillip had hoped to discover and steal the Templars’ wealth but they had hidden it before he had a chance to find it. All of their property was then given by the Pope to the Knights Hospitallers. In Britain, the job of closing down the Templars’ sites and distributing their property was not completed until 1308. It was left to local bishops, who also arranged for the Templars to be sent to monasteries to do penance for their alleged sins. As no monastery should receive more than one Templar, they were scattered across the country.


A number of Templars escaped the purge and there is a theory that the current day Freemasons owe their existence to 14th Century Templars, who took refuge in Scotland and aided Robert the Bruce in his victory at Bannockburn. There is also another modern organisation with the somewhat unwieldy name of The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta of England and Wales and its Provinces Overseas. England and Wales are divided into Provincial Priories and the local one is the Provincial Priory of Staffordshire and Shropshire. The national organisation has been in existence for over 230 years and active in Shropshire since 1849. It’s aims are to be a means of communication to bring together men of Christian faith and goodwill, regardless of background or political persuasion, and it promotes tolerance, charity and integrity. Its own area is divided into 17 Preceptories, which for Shropshire are Powys Preceptory No.431 (Wellington), Ralph Le Strange Preceptory No. 465 (Bridgnorth) and St Chad Preceptory No.193 (Shrewsbury).


Shropshire Timeline


1158 - Herbert de Castello granted the Templars a carucate (the land a plough team of eight oxen could till in a single annual season) at Lydley (SO4897) and two virgates (unit of land about 30 acres) in the township of Botville, a portion of his wife's inheritance.  


 1158 - William FitzAlan granted them the townships of Cardington (SO5095) and Enchmarsh (SO5096), half of Chatwall (SO5198), a pension of 3 marks from Cardington Church (SO507952) and 5s from Cardington Mill (SO510948). He also granted them 2 messuages (dwelling houses with outbuildings and land assigned to their use) in Shrewsbury which were worth 20s in rent. His brother Walter FitzAlan gave them a virgate at Cound (SJ5504).


1168 – King Henry II granted them an estate in Keele, Staffordshire (SJ8045) worth £2 3s 7d.


1184 – a mill was built at Lydley and fishponds created.


1185 – King Henry II granted them land at Onneley, Staffordshire (SJ751441) worth 2s, upon which they built a chapel. Brian and Roger of Brampton granted them a virgate at Kinlet (SO7180) and a half messuage in Bridgnorth. Most of their subsequent acquisitions were in Corvedale and these were held in demesne. This appears to be an attempt to complement the upland economy of the home estate at Lydley with land more suited to cereals. The Templars had 36 tenants at Cardington, 10 at Enchmarsh, 8 at Chatwall, 5 at Botelegee and 2 at Lydley. The demesne of Lydley Preceptory comprised nearly the whole of Lydley township plus other lands and assarts in Botville.  Since their tenants were excused from all services, apart from the obligation to surrender a third of their goods at death, the demesne was being worked by a large staff of permanent farm servants. Excluding the sums received from Cardington church and mill, and rents of 12. 4d from the four outlying properties, the 60 tenants on the Lydley estate paid rents totalling £7 11½d for 17¾ virgates and 173½ acres. The latter were assarts, held on life-tenancies for rents of 2d an acre, which were waived during the first three years after clearance. The standard holding was the half virgate but a third of the tenants held assarted lands in addition and a further third held assarts only. Although income from assarts represented only a quarter of the total rents, the favourable terms on which they were held are an indication of the Templars' interest in forest clearance. Each estate employed bailiffs, farm workers and a single household servant to make potage for workers. In a year at Lydley, a quarter (28 lbs) of salt and 1 quarter 7 bushels (588lbs) of oat flour were used to make the potage. All farm workers were paid in wheat grain rather than cash and, in autumn, they also received a customary payment of a pair of gloves. This payment was sometimes called Theriac, which was an ointment used as an antidote to snake venom. It is thus likely that the farm areas had adders and the workers were given gloves or the ointment to prevent injury from snake bites.


1186 -  the Templars appropriated Cardington Church.


1189 -  King Richard I confirmed King Henry II's gifts as the village of Keele and its appurtenances.


1191 – they acquired Lawton Mill in Diddlebury (SO5085).


Early 13th Century - the Lydley estate was extended into the upland country south of Caer Caradoc and the Lawley. Taking advantage of the lax administration of Langley Manor, they took possession of woods at Tywleshey and Harlith, north and south of Causeway Wood (SO518992).


1206 - they were leasing the Keele property.


1221 – they acquired property at Stanton Long (SO568898) and built a farm.


1222 - the boundary with Longnor was defined when a portion of Botwood (SO4798) was surrendered to the lord of that manor in return for exclusive rights of common in the remainder.


1225 – Robert Walensis granted them 4 virgates.


1227 – they acquired an outlying property at Turford near Richard's Castle (SO4870).


1232 - they acquired a carucate at Holt Preen (SO535965) and built a farm.


1240 – they acquired a half hide at Stoneacton (SO5093).


1250s - Richard of Stanton granted them half a virgate of land at Stanton upon Hine Heath (probably at Booley - SJ5725). Clement of Adeney granted them land at Adeney (SJ7018).


1255 – they acquired Comley (SO4896) and the property at Turford was passed to the Knights Hospitaller of Dinmore. Thomas de Stanton granted them a tract of moorland and then the remainder of his estate soon afterwards


1261 - John de Houton became preceptor at Lydley.


1263 – they leased the manor of Castle Holdgate (SJ5589) with its barony.


1266 - they made an unsuccessful claim to the advowson (the right to appoint a vicar) at Stanton Long.


1271 – the Keele property became Keele Preceptory with its own preceptor.


1273 - the common rights of Lydley and Leebotwood tenants in Botwood were regulated when the Templars were given the right to fish in the Cound Brook. Richard Lovel became preceptor at Lydley Preceptory and the only Templars there at this time were the preceptor and two serving brethren.


1274 – they acquired Willstone (SO4995). The Templars were involved in a number of lawsuits at this time where they trying to were exercise their rights as feudal overlord over numerous manors, mostly in Corvedale.


1276 – an attempt by them to usurp woodland in the part of Chatwall township outside the Lydley estate (SO5197) was foiled.


1284 – they gave up the lease on the manor of Castle Holdgate with its barony.


1292 - their claims to assarts (life tenancies) in the south-western portion of Botwood, which lay in Church Stretton manor, were still a subject of dispute.


1273 - Langley Manor challenged their possession of the woods at Tywleshey and Harlith.


1274 - Templar corn from Castle Holdgate was seized by Sir John Giffard of Corfham while it was being carried to Ludlow.


1292 - Stephen became preceptor at Lydley.


1297 - Stephen de Staplebrigge had been inducted into the Templar order at Keele in 1295 but was inducted again by the Master of the Templars in England at Lydley Preceptory. The reason for this double initiation is unknown.


1302 – they were granted the right to create a warren on their demesne at Lydley.


1304 – a corrodiary (retired Templar) was granted board at the serving brothers' table, 5s a year and a robe.


1307 - the vicar of the church at Cardington was receiving small tithes (great tithes were on corn, grain, hay and wood. Small tithes on everything else produced). Very few women were employed because of the knights’ vows but the cooks at Lydley and Stanton Long, who made porridge for the farmworkers, were female. The cook at Preen was a boy, the wages paid remained the same, whether a woman or a man was working as cook. A forester was employed at Lydley and Henry of Halton  became preceptor. Another corrodiary was granted board at the serving brothers' table, 5s a year and a robe.


1308 - the Templars order was dissolved in Britain and the Sheriff of Shropshire was given the job of distributing their assets. The rents, tithes and other income alone totalled about £44 per year. The Templars’ estate was retained and managed by the Crown for the next few years. Accounts are available for the 4 main properties and give some idea of the situation at that time :-



During the year, the Sheriff sold off all the livestock, thus saving the costs of employing two shepherds, a cowherd and a swineherd. This livestock included 13 cows, 26 oxen, 280 sheep and 96 lambs. That year's shearing had produced 254 fleeces and the harvest that year had yielded 80 quarters (160 stones) of wheat and 124 quarters (248 stones) of oats. There were two corrodiaries in residence to be supported from the revenues of the manor and it is likely that they now had to find other accommodation. The only other Templar in residence was the preceptor, Lieutenant-Commander Henry of Halton. The employees the Sheriff retained included a carter, ploughman, maid who made pottage for the farm workers, forester and bailiff. The farms were then turned over entirely to grain.



-         £7 22d for one sack and three stone of wool

-         26s 9d rent from a watermill

-         20s rent from a house in Shrewsbury

-         9s 4d from sale of cow and ewe milk

-         Rents from local tenants

-         Sale of free stone from the quarry, this was a fine-grained, soft stone suitable for carving with a chisel

-         No income from the dovecote because it was newly built and not yet stocked

-         No income from herbage in the woodland and forest because it was grazed by the manor’s own draught animals



-         2s 3½d for washing, shearing and spinning the wool of 254 sheep

-         1½d per day to the bailiff

-         Viridi Grecio (green copper) and Vivo Argento (mercury) to mix with grease or fat to make uncto (ointment to treat diseased sheep)

-         Weeding the grain

-         Reaping, collecting and tying in tasses (ricks)

-         Customary payment in autumn of a pair of gloves to employees

-         The two corrodiaries would now receive 2d a day for food, 5s a year for clothing and 5s a year for other necessities.



The Sheriff sold all moveable assets which included :-

-         Iron-bound chest with the various writings of the kings of England and others relating to the Templars

-         Four bulls (papal letters) in a small box with 14 sealed letters patent

-         Pyx (round box) with a charter of King Henry

-         3 pyxes with various letters patent

-         Large letter sealed with two wax seals

-         9 lead bulls (seals)

-         2 coffers (boxes for valuables) worth 3s

-         Ebony wood pyx

-         Cameline robe (made of coarse cloth)

-         3 albs (white robes)

-         Chasubles (ornate tabards worn over robe)

-         Set of vestments worth 12s

-         Mail jacket worth half a mark (6s 8d)

-         Pair of armoured gloves made of whalebone plates worth 2s

-         Metal helmet and mace

-         Sword worth 2s.

-         Pair of spurs

-         Gold ring worth 2s

-         Silver ring worth 12d

-         Altar cloth worth 17d

-         Towel worth 6d

-         Maple wood bowl

-         7 small candles weighing 6 pounds

-         15 horse-shoes

-         Pair of horse-girths

-         Tin and pewter.


Stanton Long

There were 140 acres, exclusively devoted to growing wheat and oats. Employees included a carter, 4 ploughmen, a maid who made pottage for the farmworkers, a servant and a bailiff.



-         Rents from tenants

-         Rent from properties at Bridgnorth and Kenley

-         Rent from Cecilia de Lawton for a water mill.



-         Cloth, nails, rivets, tallow, pole-cord and a halter for the wagons and carts

-         38s 11d for the grain to be weeded, reaped, bound into sheaves and collected into ricks

-         23s divided between a carter and 4 ploughmen, an average of 4s 7¼d each

-         18d for a house maid

-         16d for the meadows to be mowed and the hay made

-         Payment for a person to help the shepherd at lambing time

-         Payment for a reeve (foreman) who was employed in the summer to supervise the harvest

-         Customary payment in autumn of a pair of gloves to employees.


Holt Preen

There were 100 acres, exclusively devoted to growing wheat and oats. Employees included 2 ploughmen, a boy who made pottage for the farmworkers and a bailiff. Apart from six heifers, the livestock were all plough horses. The farm equipment included a plough with irons, a plough without irons, a wagon and a winnowing fan.



-         Payment from Agistment (pasturing another person's cattle)

-         10s from lease of coal mining rights

-         2s from lease of iron mining rights

-         Chevage (payment for a right of way)

-         Income from pasture, herbage, sale of hay and selling apples from the garden.



-         Over 37 weeks, 2 quarters, 2½ bushels and a peck of wheat to make potage

-         Half the cost of moving and making hay at Long Stanton

-         Tar-pitch (bought for the sheep)

-         Milk and bran bought to sustain the lambs at lambing

-         Customary payment in autumn of a pair of gloves to employees.



This estate was in Staffordshire and the accounts hardly mention it at all.



-         Rents from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Onneley, Stanton and Nantwich.



-         the cook received 2 pecks of ‘mixture’ per week to make potage.


1311 - Brother Henry of Halthon, former lieutenant commander of Lydley Preceptory, was sent to the monastery of St Peter in Shrewsbury to do penance.


1313 – on behalf of the Crown, the Sheriff was finally ready to pass on the estate. Accounts were made of the situation at that time :-




-         10s from coal mining rights

-         5s from Cheminage (payment for a right of way)

-         2s from iron mining rights

-         7d from sale of a horse’s carcass

-         The water mill was still in operation and provided rent

-         The crops grown had changed a little to include vetch and maslin (a mixture of rye and wheat). The harvest consisted of 141 acres of wheat, 80 acres of oats, 24½ acres of maslin, 6 acres of peas and vetch, 3 acres of hay, making a total of 254½ acres under production.

-         Freestone was still being produced from the quarry but the income had increased by 6d.

-         The dovecote had been stocked and was now producing income.

-         As all of the stock was sold in the first year of confiscation, there was no income from milk or wool. Similarly, this meant that grazing in the pasture of the messuage was no longer being consumed by the manor’s own stock and could be sold.

-         A levy on itinerant vendors.



-         2s 11d for a farrier to care for a sick draught horse which subsequently died

-         12d for two bushels of salt

-         Purchase of a replacement horse from the former Templar manor of Stanton Long

-         Bread, ale, herring, pastry and drink

-         Wages of the potage-maker

-         6½ quarters of oats eaten by the 2 horses and 18 oxen during sowing operations

-         Payment to two former Templar employees, John Golstrode and Richard Neville, presumably as a sort of pension or compensation for losing their job

-         Payment to Master Richard of Gloucester, presumably a retired head of Lydley Preceptory, who was paid an annual pension and wages for his clerk and boy

-         Payment of 4d a day to Brother Thomas of Wohope, formerly of Temple Bisham Preceptory in Berkshire, who had been sent to Much Wenlock Abbey

-         Payment of 4d a day to Brother Henry of Halton, ex-head of Lydley Preceptory, who had been sent to St Peter’s Abbey in Shrewsbury

-         The barn roof needed repair

-         The workers no longer received a benefit in kind in autumn but they did receive food and drink in winter, in addition to potage.


Long Stanton and Holt Preen


-         Those who lead the plough animals earn slightly less (one quarter wheat each 13 weeks) than those who hold the plough (one quarter wheat each 12 weeks)

-         The workers no longer received a benefit in kind in autumn but they did receive food and drink in winter, in addition to potage.


In October of that year, the Templar estates were acquired by Richard de Hailey.


1314 – Cardington Church and the estates at Long Stanton and Holt Preen were handed over to the Knights Hospitaller. Edmund, Earl of Arundel, acquired the Templar estate at Lydley and most of Cardington parish. He had a claim upon it as heir of one of the founders. Although the Keele estate should also have been passed to the Knights Hospitaller, it was in fact secured by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in his right as Lord of Newcastle-under-Lyme.


1322 - upon the execution of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, the Keele property reverted to the Crown.


1324 - Keele was granted to the Knights Hospitaller. Instead of establishing a new preceptory there, they made the manor part of Halston Preceptory. They also confirmed Arundel’s title to the Lydley estate.


1325 – Edmund, Earl of Arundel, leased Lydley to a syndicate of 4 persons. Under the name of Lydley Hays, it was always leased afterwards as a single farm until the 17th Century.


1597 - Penkridge Hall was built by Rowland Whitbrooke on the site of the former Lydley Preceptory itself. It is said that the house has a chapel in the basement but it is not known if this was left over from the Templars.


Early 17th Century - the hamlet of Lydley had shrunk to a single farm.


Today -  the site of the village is now represented by a derelict range of cottages known as the Day House (SO484983).


Current Remains


Caynton Temple (SJ776029)

At Caynton, there is an ornate man-made cave carved out of the sandstone. This was allegedly dug in the 17th Century by followers of the Knights Templar in order to have a secret place to worship.



Caynton Temple


More photos can be seen at :-

28 Days Later

From Where You Are Not – Knights Templar Caves

From Where You Are Not – Return to Knights Templar Grotto



Holt Preen Grange (SO535965)

Founded in 1232 as a grange (farm) and closed in 1308 when the order was dissolved. All surface remains were destroyed when Holt Farm was built on the site.


Ludlow Castle Chapel (SO508746)

Within Ludlow Castle is an early Norman chapel dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. It may have been associated with the Templars as the interior carvings include two Templar crosses and the saint is their particular favourite. It has a round nave and this design is particularly associated with the Templars, copying the design of the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem.


Ludlow Castle: the chapel

Ludlow Castle Chapel


Lydley Preceptory (SO490976)

Founded in 1158 and closed in 1308 when the order was dissolved. All surface remains were destroyed when Penkridge Hall was built on the site in 1597. A Preceptory was a building serving as the administration centre for a group of Templars. Sometimes the word Commandery was used instead of Preceptory, mainly by heads who had been in the Crusades and retained a military rank of Commander.


Penkridge Hall


St James Church, Cardington (SO507951)

In 1186, the Templars acquired the church and the first documented priest was Arnulf. After the suppression of the Templars in 1308, Cardington Church was taken over by the Crown and given to the Knights Hospitaller in 1314.


Stanton Long Grange (SO568898)

Founded in 1221 as a grange (farm) and closed in 1308 when the order was dissolved. The site is at the hamlet of Brookhampton but there are no surface remains.




Cardiff University Blog


Knights Templar


Priory of Staffordshire & Shropshire


Templars in Shropshire & Staffordshire





Knights Hospitaller


Hospitaller Knight


Knights Hospitaller (properly called the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem) were an order of knights created in 1113 by the Pope  (see Wikipedia for a detailed history) to provide care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. The members took lifetime monastic vows of personal poverty, chastity and obedience to their superior, promising to help defend Christians and Christian territory against non-Christians. The first Master was Gerard Thom, who acquired territory and revenues from benefactors in Jerusalem and beyond. With these, he created a hospice to care for sick or injured pilgrims but this was soon expanded to an infirmary near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The next Master was Raymond du Puy, who in 1118 created a militia to provide protection for pilgrims on their journey. The order was divided into knights, men at arms and chaplains. In 1248, Pope Innocent IV approved a standard military dress for the Hospitallers to be worn during battle. This was a red surcoat with a white cross emblazoned on it, soon changed to a black surcoat with white cross.


Raymond offered the service of his armed troops in fighting the Saracens and they became one of the most formidable military orders in the Holy Land. At the height of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers held 7 great forts and 140 other estates in the Holy Land. The two largest of these were the Krak des Chevaliers and Margat. The area occupied by the order was divided into Priories, subdivided into Bailiwicks, which in turn were divided into Commanderies (also known as Preceptories). By the late 12th Century, the order began to acquire land in Britain and Europe, which provided income for their activities in the Middle East. From the mid-12th Century the Hospitallers played an important role in the re-conquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims.


After the fall of Jerusalem and Acre in 1291, the order sought refuge in Cyprus. Finding themselves enmeshed in Cypriot politics, they besieged the island of Rhodes and, in 1309, Rhodes and a number of neighbouring islands surrendered to the Hospitallers. They became rulers of Rhodes and built a large castle there.

The Hospitaller's Castle at Rhodes


Pope Clement V dissolved the Knights Templar in 1312 and much of their property was passed to the Hospitallers. They remained on Rhodes until 1522, when it was invaded by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent with 100,000 men. Against this force, the Knights had about 7,000 men-at-arms. The siege lasted 6 months and then the Hospitallers surrendered, being allowed to withdraw to Sicily. In 1530, when Charles I of Spain gave them the island of Malta, Gozo and the North African port of Tripoli in perpetual fiefdom in exchange for an annual fee of a single Maltese falcon. Following the Protestant Reformation in England, the order was abolished and its properties confiscated by Henry VIII in 1540. The Hospitallers continued to fight the Muslims from Malta, especially the Barbary Pirates. In 1565, Sultan Suleiman sent an invasion force of about 40,000 men to besiege the 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers in Malta. After a lot of fighting, the Turkish forces were fooled into believing that there was a relieving force of Sicilians arriving and they retreated. The fighting had been so intense that the Hospitallers only had 600 men surviving.


The Hospitallers could no longer fulfil their original purpose since the Holy Land was now firmly in the hands of Muslims. With dwindling revenues from European sponsors, no longer willing to support a costly and meaningless organisation, they turned to policing the Mediterranean from the increased threat of piracy, most notably the Barbary Pirates operating from the North African coastline. Corruption began to set in and soon they were raiding Muslim ships and plundering the contents.  In 1792, the French National Assembly abolished feudalism in France and also abolished the order in France. Malta was captured by Napoleon in 1798 during his expedition to Egypt and the knights were dispersed throughout Europe. Emperor Paul I of Russia gave the largest number of knights shelter in Saint Petersburg and they elected him as their new Master. In 1834, the order settled in Rome and hospital work, the original aim of the order, became once again its main concern. In 1877, the order was revived in Britain and it set up the St John Ambulance Association, supporting the teaching of first aid in the mining valleys of South Wales. This new British Order of St John taught first aid to men and women and also did important emergency rescue work, especially in South Wales when mining disasters occurred. The Order's hospital and welfare activities, undertaken on a considerable scale in World War I, were greatly intensified and expanded in World War II. The Order is still officially in existence and maintains diplomatic relations with 106 countries. It has 13,000 members and 80,000 volunteers, including over 20,000 doctors, nurses and paramedics dedicated to the care of the poor, the sick, etc.


Shropshire Timeline


1165 – Roger de Powys, Lord of Whittington, granted the Hospitallers a portion of his demesne on which they built the Halton Preceptory.


1220s - the bishop of St. Asaph asked them to be a guardian for his hospital at Oswestry.


1240 – they acquired an interest in the churches at Oswestry and St Martin's.


1248 – they had appropriated Kinnerley Church, together with the tithes of Osbaston. The great tithes of Whittington demesne were granted to Halston Preceptory in return for the provision of a chaplain at Whittington castle.


1254 – they acquired Tregynon Church, Carno Manor and Llanwddyn Grange.


1255 - a property at Turford, near Richard's Castle, was passed to them by the Templars.


1270 - they acquired the manor of St John's in Ellesmere and its townships of Haughton, Colemere and Crosemere.


1288 – following Edward I’s conquest of Wales, the Dolgynwal Preceptory was united with Halston Preceptory, which was subsequently the administrative centre for all Hospitaller estates in North Wales. From this merger, they inherited Ellesmere Church, the chapel at Penmachno and Gwanas Grange.


1314 – Cardington Church and the estates at Long Stanton and Holt Preen were handed over to the Knights Hospitaller. Although the Keele estate should also have been passed to the Knights Hospitaller, it was in fact secured by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, in his right as Lord of Newcastle-under-Lyme.


1322 - upon the execution of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, the Keele property reverted to the Crown.


1324 - Keele was granted to the Knights Hospitaller. The latter confirmed Arundel’s title to the Lydley estate.


1338 – no members of the order were living at Dolgynwal Preceptory anymore but it was still used to grow oats. At Halston Preceptory there were the Preceptor, a Serjeant-at-Arms, a Corodiary (retired Hospitaller) and two chaplains. There were also 8 farm servants, a steward and 2 clerks. A 200 acre demesne was retained and accounts for the period give the following :-



£72 13s 4d from local tithes

£79 9s 2d from other income.

£50 0s 0d from Ellesmere rents and tithes

£42 15s 10d from local rents

£26 13s 4d from Confraria (voluntary contributions)

£7 0s 0d from Expedores (outriders).



-         the household consumed 70 quarters (1,960lbs) of wheat annually

-         the household consumed 30 quarters (840lbs) of rye annually

-         the household consumed 160 quarters (4,480lbs) of malt annually

-         gifts totaling £10 a year to royal officials and other lords to secure their good will.


1355 – there was a visit by the Earl of March.


1366 - the 27 tenants at St John’s in Ellesmere held just over 6½ virgates. Although the total rents of some £4 a year remained unchanged until the Dissolution, entry fines

(payment by a purchaser on entering an unfree tenement) were sometimes heavy, life leases were the usual form of tenure and Amobyr dues (maiden-fees paid to a Lord on the marriage of a maiden in his manor) were scrupulously exacted.


1377 - the demesne at Dolgynwal Preceptory was let on a three-year lease.


1415 - a new preceptor at Halston required the tenants to erect crosses on their houses and wear crosses on their caps, as was common on Hospitaller estates elsewhere.


1429 - an unsuccessful attempt was made by the Hospitallers to claim a third of the goods of deceased tenants.


1428 - the absence of ploughmen among the farm servants at Halston indicates that the demesne there was no longer being farmed directly and was probably leased. In spite of unsettled conditions in Wales, the gross annual income had risen to nearly £208. Rents and tithes produced £151 and the income from confraria, oblations (offering to God) on St John's Day and other dues was £53. Although the preceptor was occasionally resident, the only permanent staff at Halston were 2 chaplains and 10 servants, including a miller, warrener, stabler and dairymaid. These consumed the corn and hay tithes of Halston and of four townships in Ellesmere and Kinnerley. Fodder was bought for the horses of Richard, Lord Strange (Lord of Ellesmere and Knockin), with whom the Hospitallers seem to have been on somewhat uneasy terms.


1430 - they countered a claim by Lord Strange to the assize (law regulating the price, weight and quality) of bread from their Ellesmere tenants.


1432 – Lord Strange’s servants were alleged to have burnt down the Halston tithe barns at Maesbrook.


1535 - the whole estate was valued at £160 14s 0d. The domestic buildings were probably leased with the demesne and manor courts were no longer being held here or at Ellesmere. Dolgynwal was leased, together with its confraria of Caernarvonshire and Anglesey, to Robert ap Rees and all other confraria were leased to Rhys ap Owen.


1539 - Richard Mytton was granted a five-year lease of the whole estate except Kinnerley Rectory and Dolgynwal. He was required to live at Halston Preceptory to provide hospitality and to find a priest for the chapel.


1540 - King Henry VIII abolished the Hospitallers and confiscated their property.


1543 - the Halston demesne was granted by the Crown to John Sewster.


1545 – the Halston demesne was excluded from a new lease made to Mytton.


1544 – John Sewster sold Halston to Alan Horde.


1551 – Alan Horde exchanged Halston with Richard Mytton for lands in Warwickshire.


1545 - the manor of St John in Ellesmere was granted to Thomas Onslow. Carno and Tregynon were acquired by Rhys ap Morris.  


1553 - Queen Mary re-established the order. Although a preceptor of Halston was appointed when the order was revived in England, there is no indication that this had any practical effect and the lands remained in private hands.


1560 - Ellesmere Rectory, Dolgynwal, Penmachno, Gwanas and Llanwddyn were granted to George Lee, who also obtained portions of the tithes of Kinnerley and Whittington. Kinnerley Rectory was granted to Robert Davy and Henry Dunne.


1826 - Knights Hospitaller living in France offered knighthoods to specific people in Great Britain, irrespective of their Christian denomination. These English Knights then devoted themselves to charitable activities and formed the Grand Priory of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in England.


1877 - the Grand Priory of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in England set up the St John Ambulance with the aim of training ordinary people in first aid so accident victims at work could be treated quickly. Classes were set up across the country, particularly in workplaces and areas of heavy industry.


1887 - trained volunteers were organised into a uniformed Brigade to provide a first aid and ambulance service at public events. In many parts of Britain, St John was the first and only provider of an ambulance service right up to the middle of the 20th Century, when the National Health Service was founded. When there were far fewer doctors and hospital beds than today, St John nurses looked after the sick and injured in their own homes. There were originally three parts of the organisation, St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Foundation, St John Ambulance Association (concerned with training the public in first aid) and St John Ambulance Brigade (providing first aid care to the public).


1974 - The St John Ambulance Association and St John Ambulance Brigade were amalgamated to form the present St John Ambulance Brigade.


Current Remains


Halston Preceptory (SJ338312)

A preceptory founded at Halston in 1165 and confiscated by King Henry VIII in 1540. Apart from the fine timber-framed chapel, which probably dates from the early 15th Century, there are no structural remains of the preceptory above ground. It is said to have stood to the west of the chapel and was presumably demolished around 1690, when the present house was built to the north. There are, however, a number of clearly artificial irregularities in the surface of the field in which the chapel stands, notably two rectangular ditched enclosures to the south.


Halston Chapel


Preceptors of Halston Preceptory


1239 - Thomas

1294 - Odo de Neneth

1330 - Richard de Bachesworth

1338 - Philip de Luda

1350 - Walter of Kinnerley

1367 - Robert of Normanton

1382 - Walter Grendon

1415 - John Kilquyt

1420 - John Etton (resigned same year)

1420 -  Walter Burley

1442 - William Bathcote

1454 - Thomas West (died same year)

1454 - John Langstrother

1470 - Augustus Middlemore

1471 - John Kendall

1483 - Stephen Lynde

1492 - Robert Dalison

1506 - Roger Boydel

1523 - Giles Russell (ceased in August same year)

1523 - Nicholas Roberts (ceased in November same year)

1523 - George Aylmer (appointed in November but in 1535 found to be insane and removed from office)

1558 - Richard Shelley (after Queen Mary re-established the order).




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