Author Archives: Helen Nicholson

Banks, beehives and cooking pots: the Templars’ estates in Norfolk and Suffolk

When King Edward II’s officials arrested the Templars early in January 1308, they did not find any Templars in Norfolk and Suffolk. The Templars owned a number of manors in these two East Anglian counties, at Gislingham, Togrind, Dunwich and Dingle in Suffolk, and Haddiscoe in Norfolk. They also had property at locations named in the accounts as Wratting and Trilow, Bergholt, Werham or Wenham, Bentleye, Preston or Freston, Braham and Mayntre.
Even though there were no Templars living there in January 1308, these were working farms producing quantities of wheat, barley, oats, rye and peas. Some of this produce was turned into food for the farm labourers, and some was sold. Some animals were kept — horses and oxen to pull the ploughs, and some sheep and pigs. Gislingham produced six and a half stone of wool in the first three quarters of a year, and seven and a half stone in the following three quarters and one week, while Dunwich produced 20 cheeses. Unlike at the large estates in Herefordshire, the king’s officials who were taking care of these estates noted the value of the poultry and geese, and even the number of eggs produced and sold. There was also a beehive at Gislingham.
Unsurprisingly for East Anglia, there was a windmill at Gislingham. The mill at Togrind was a watermill.
The royal officials who took over care of the estates after the Templars’ arrest made an inventory of everything of any value, and a few things of very little value, such as cooking pots. The chapels at Gislingham, Togrind and Dunwich had books and various furnishings. Dunwich in particular had a working chapel with its own salaried chaplain, assisted by a clerk, books, valuable plate and a collection of holy relics. There were also valuable coins, gold rings, and over a hundred pounds in cash deposited with the Templars of Dunwich by Robert de Seffeld, parson of the church of Brampton, for safe keeping. The king’s official returned this cash to its owner. The Templars’ house at Dunwich had also received an oblatio (payment or offering) of a lamb — this was kept for the king. All the manors employed skilled craftsmen and farm labourers; there was also a maidservant working at  Gislingham. All in all, despite the lack of Templars, these houses supported busy communities in 1308.

Templar almshouse at Gislingham in Suffolk

Although the records from the Templars’ estates in 1308 to 1313 indicate that the brothers gave regular aid to the poor, it’s very difficult to identify buildings associated with this almsgiving. However, the inventory from Gislingham in Suffolk mentions an almshouse — although it was in a very poor state of repair. For a photo of the document, see my blog at:

Reproduction of old articles on the Templars and Hospitallers

Earlier this week I put on to some of my early papers from the international ‘Military Orders’ conferences at St John’s Gate in London: ‘Knights and Lovers’  (from the 1992 conference); ‘Before William of Tyre‘ (from the 1996 conference); and ‘The Hospitallers and the “Peasants’ Revolt” of 1381 revisited‘ (from 2000). All of these have been published in the proceedings of each conference: the proceedings of the 1996 and 2000 conferences are still in print and are available for purchase from Ashgate Publishing.

Glorious Devon

I have uploaded a draft transcription of the sheriff’s accounts for the Templars’ (meagre) properties in Devon here.

This is the account of the late Thomas de Ralegh, recently sheriff of Devon and former custodian of the Templars’ manor of  Chitterley in the Exe valley, and its associated properties at Cherubeer, North and South Combe, Clayhanger and Wallon; it covers the last three quarters of the first year of Edward II’s reign, and the first three quarters of the second year.

Transcriptions: Some accounts for Northumbria and Essex

Dr Myra Born and Mrs Valerie Rudd have generously transcribed some of the records from the Templars’ estates. Myra’s translation of the accounts for Northumbria from 1308-9 are here: and Valerie’s transcriptions of some of King Edward II’s instructions to William le Plomer, custodian of the Templars’ estates in Essex, are here.

The 700th anniversary of the Templars’ demise: continued

In yet another event commemorating the 700th anniversary of the final end of the Templars, next week Theresa Vann, Paul Crawford and I are giving papers on ‘The Aftermath of the Templars’ at the 49th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo ( ), session 244 from 1.30pm on Friday 9 May. My paper, ‘Memories of the Templars in Britain: Templar charters in Hospitaller records after the Dissolution of the Templars’, focuses on the work of Brother John Stillingflete, Hospitaller historian writing in 1434, and asks why he made so much of the Templar Order which had been dissolved in ignominy 120 years before.

The Templar Economy in Britain and Ireland: Workshop report

The workshop last Saturday at Blaydes House in Hull went extremely well. First point: Blaydes house is a beautiful old merchant’s house, with beautiful high-ceiling’d rooms, perfect for a workshop of this sort. Every University should have a resource like this one.  Next point: we had some excellent papers. The first paper was on Templar preceptories in Lincolnshire and asked: What are the characteristics of a preceptory? How did they differ from other properties? Then there was a paper on the recent excavations at the Templars’ former commandery/preceptory at Faxfleet in Yorkshire, and a paper on the Templars’ properties in Scotland and what became of them after the Templars were dissolved — with a great map, locating all the properties! After lunch, there was a paper ‘clearing the ground’ for new research into the Templars and Hospitallers in the north of England, a progress report on research into Templars and Hospitallers in Ireland and their relations with kings and popes, and my own paper on Templars in the south-west margins of Templar property in England and Wales. I was arguing that although the Templars’ lands made a profit in the period 1307-13, when the additional costs of corrodies and pensions are taken into account they may not have been so profitable in the long term.

John Walker and I are now considering a follow-up meeting, to include those who couldn’t get to this workshop, and for further progress reports from those who came this time. We are also thinking about publishing the papers in some form, perhaps online.

(This blog was originally posted to Gawainsmum and reblogged here.)

Templar Lands and Economy Workshop

Templar Lands and Economy Workshop Programme 26 April 2014

Dr John Walker is organising a workshop on recent research into the Templars’ lands and economy in Britain and Ireland. The workshop will take place on Saturday 26 April 2014 at Blaydes House, Maritime Historical Studies Centre, University of Hull, and its purpose is to discuss the state of knowledge on the Templars’ estates and to consider the nature of the available sources and how to develop research in this area. The registration fee for this event is £10. For further information and a registration form please contact Dr John Walker at the University of Hull (

Finding a digital platform — problems

My transcription of the accounts of the Templars’ estates in Herefordshire is now on Wattpad . However, the final part of the accounts was initially blocked  by Wattpad on the basis it’s copyright material. According to the National Archives website, it isn’t restricted material (see ). The National Archives website states: ”You may quote or transcribe from Crown copyright documents freely and without formal permission. However you must give the document reference number and acknowledge The National Archives as custodian of the document” — which I have done.

Wattpad have now resolved the problem, but as a back-up I’ve put my transcriptions of the custodians’ accounts for the Templars’ estates in Herefordshire on to, and have attached the document which offended Wattpad here: Herefordshire accounts in TNA E358_19.