I’ve recently published a new article on the estates of the Knights Templar: how they were operated, what they produced, and who worked there: ‘The Surveys and Accounts of the Templars’ estates in England and Wales (1308–13)’, in Crusading Europe: Essays in Honour of Christopher Tyerman, ed. G. E. M. Lippiatt and Jessalynn L. Bird, Outremer: Studies in the Crusades and the Latin East, 8 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019, ISBN 978-2-503-57996-2), pp. 181–209.
It has been estimated that at the beginning of 1308 the Templars in England and Wales held around 34,400 acres of cultivable land and over 30,000 acres of woodland and permanent pasture, making them one of the largest landholders in these countries. They held property in all but four of the English counties, although their property in Wales was limited to small properties in west Glamorgan and the south-east of modern Wales. Some of this land was directly managed as demesne, but much was leased out to tenants. Although the records in the National Archives date from the period after the Templars’ arrest, it is unlikely that the royal custodians would have changed the operation of the estates during the first few months, although they may have done so later. This article is based on the initial accounts produced by the royal custodians and relates to the operation of the estates in 1308. As such it offers just a snapshot of estate management, rather than an ongoing picture. Yet it is a very extensive snapshot, covering England from the south to the north, west to east; and it comes from a significant moment in English economic history, just before the Great European Famine (1315–18).