Author Archives: Helen Nicholson

Transcriptions and translations on Wattpad

I’ve added some more transcriptions to Wattpad, with English translations: for Northumberland and Co. Durham, and Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire. I have also tidied up the transcription of some material on Essex and added some summaries and one translation.

For those who prefer a pdf file, here are the Bulstrode accounts from January 1308 to March 1309, with a translation of part: Templars in Bucks and Beds enrolled account year one text and translation

Tithes — when the Templars weren’t exempt

One of the Templars’ most famous and notorious exemptions was not having to pay tithes (a tenth of income, paid to the Church). This was a particular complaint against the Order at the Third Lateran Council in 1179, when both the Templars’ and the Hospitallers’ privileges were attacked by the secular clergy. The pope, Alexander III, allowed them to keep this privilege for newly-cultivated lands. In addition, as these two orders were allowed to own parish churches, they collected tithes due to the parish priest.

So in Herefordshire at Newton and Harewood (dependencies of Garway) and at Garway the Templars received the great tithe (TNA: E358/19 rots 47d, 50d) and at Dingle and Dunwich in Suffolk they received the small tithes (E 358/18 rots 11, 38(1), 44d). At their church at Cardington in Shropshire the vicar received the small tithes (E 358/18 rots 4, 54; E 358/19 rot. 36, E 358/20 rot. 5).

Yet the Templars did pay some tithes! The accounts of 1308-13 show that they paid tithes as well as receiving them. At Gislingham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border (TNA: E 358/18 rots 3, 24d) the Templars paid a tithe on fleeces, geese and hens, and at Garway in Herefordshire they paid a tithe on lands they held from the earl of Striguil (E 358/18 rot. 2, E 358/19 rot. 25). At Keele in Staffordshire the Templars paid a tithe on lambs and wool (E 358/18 rot. 4, E 358/20 rot. 5) and at Thornton in Northumberland the Templars paid a tithe of lambs (E 358/18 rot. 6d).

Why these different payments? — that is for further research.

Women workers on the Templars’ estates

A quick glance through the accounts of the Templars’ estates while they were in King Edward II’s hands suggests that there were very few women employed. The cook who made the porridge for the farmworkers was described as a ‘garcio’ or lad at Temple Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire (Easter to Michaelmas 1308: TNA E 358/18 rot. 7): at Horspath in Oxfordshire (first four months of 1308: E 358/19 rot. 26), at Preen in Shropshire (from 1308 onwards: E 358/20 rot. 5 dorse), in Herefordshire (from 1308 onwards: E 358/18 rot. 2); and as a ‘homo’ (a man or person) at Thornton in Northumberland during the period from November 1308 to the end of September 1309 (E 358/18 rot. 52(2). But when we look a little further, we find that an ‘ancilla’ or maid was making the farmworkers’ porridge at Temple Bulstrode for the first four months of 1308 (E 358/18 rot. 6 dorse), and at Hillcrombe and Broughton in Worcestershire (E 199/46/21 and E 359/19 rot. 47 dorse), Lydley and Stanton Long in Shropshire (E 358/20 rot. 5 dorse) and Thornton from January to November 1308 and in 1309–10 (E 358/18 rots 6 dorse and 52 dorse). There was also a maid employed at Gislingham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border (in 1308: E 358/18 rot. 3), and women were employed at Garway in Herefordshire to milk the sheep (in 1308: E 358/18 rot. 2), at Balsall in Warwickshire to collect straw after harvest (TNA: PRO E 358/19, mem. 40(1) recto) and at Bulstrode to gather up the crop after reaping.

So women were employed, even by this male religious community, to carry out certain tasks: sometimes for the unskilled farming jobs, but also to perform jobs requiring skill (milking) or inside the house as cook.

Employment changed during the time that the sheriffs ran the estates. At Bulstrode there was a woman employed as cook during the Templars’ time, but after the king took over the estate she was replaced by a man. But at Thornton there was a woman employed from January to November 1308, a man employed in 1308-9 and then a woman again in 1309-10. At Lydley the person who made the porridge was described as a ‘serviens’ (servant: this could be male or female) from 1311-12 (E 358/19 rot. 36 and 54), but an ‘ancilla’ (maid) in earlier years; at Stanton Long the cook became a ‘serviens’ in 1311-13 but was an ‘ancilla’ again in 1313-14. It is also interesting that the wages paid remained the same, whether a woman or a man was working as cook.

Clearly one barrier to identifying these women workers is the variety of terms used to describe them: it is likely that there was a woman making porridge at Lydley throughout the period 1308–12, even though the term used to describe her in the enrolled accounts changed from ‘ancilla’ to ‘serviens’. Another problem is that detail could be lost when the detailed particulars of account submitted by the sheriffs were enrolled into the great Pipe Rolls at the Exchequer. Edmund de Burnham’s particulars of account for Temple Bulstrode for 12 March 1309–28 Sept 1309 (British Library, Harley Rolls A 25) include under ‘dairy costs’ the hire of two women to milk the ewes; but the diary costs were struck through with the comment that the dairy expenses should be included under ‘necessities’, where they would be a single figure.


Whatever happened to the Templars’ treasure?

… in England, at any rate, the king took it. Or at least he took some of it.
At Temple Bulstrode in Buckinghamshire, the Templars had a ‘tabula’ (a wooden panel or board) with holy relics in it, and a silver gilt thurible or censer. When the Templars were arrested in January 1308 and their property was valued by the sheriff of Bucks., Gilbert of Holm, the reliquary-panel and the silver censer were put to one side. The king instructed Gilbert to hand these valuable items over to the keeper of his wardrobe, Ingelard of Warle, and Ingelard was told to put them in the king’s chapel. And there they would have stayed.

So, do these pieces of Templar treasure still exist? The reliquary would have been destroyed during the Reformation. But perhaps the censer survived?

(The information about these pieces of Templar treasure is recorded at TNA E 358/18 rot. 6 dorse.)

Silver thurible advertised by Luzar vestments:

As an example, here is a silver thurible advertised by Luzar vestments:

Temple Bulstrode: cheese, butter and tallysticks

The Templars’ manor of Temple Bulstrode was in Hedgerley parish in Buckinghamshire. Today the site is part of Bulstrode Park, open to the public only once a year, and famous for its lovely gardens and trees. In the early fourteenth century the trees provided an important source of income: fallen trees were cut up into tally sticks, which were used to keep a record of financial translations. In the first three months of 1308 the manor made a profit of nearly £11 producing and selling 7,600 tally sticks. There was also income from rents, the dovecote, the water mill and the sale of grain. But the largest sum in 1308-9 came from the sale of 157 cheeses and eight gallons of butter — that’s a lot of butter!

Update: there’s more on Templar cheese at Bulstrode here.

The estate also produced 350 sheep’s fleeces and 56 lambs’ fleeces, but these were not sold: they were handed over to the king’s agent.

Bulstrode was not one of the Templars’ larger estates in England: in 1308 the farmworkers reaped 145 acres of grain, in contrast to (for example) 460 acres of grain at Upleadon in that year, or 644 acres of grain at Garway four years later. But the manor seems to have been much better off than the Herefordshire houses: more of this in a later post.

(The accounts for Temple Bulstrode in 1308-9 are in The National Archives at E 358/18 rots 6 and 7 dorse and E 358/20 rots 12 and 24.)

A medieval (horse) tragedy in Shropshire

Alas! In 1311-12 one of the two affers or draught animals at the Templars’ commandery at Lydley in Shropshire fell ill with quodam morbo in nervis, an unidentified disease of the sinews, or the nerves — or simply meaning that it lost all its strength. A mareschal or farrier was called in to care for it, at a cost of two shillings and 11 pence, but there was no hope: the animal died.
Its carcase was sold for seven pence, and a replacement affer was obtained from the former Templar manor of Stanton Long, so that there were still two at Lydley at the end of the year. The accounts for 1311-12 add that during the sowing the two affers and 18 oxen ate 6 and a half quarters of oats — so at Lydley the ploughing was done by both horses and oxen, and obviously two horses were needed to pull a plough.

Photo copyright Nigel Nicholson

Penkridge Hall, on the site of the former Lydley commandery

For more about Lydley, see below.

The Templars at Bristol

Keepers accounts for Bristol 1309-13 in full Everyone who has ever travelled through Bristol Temple Meads is aware that the Templars owned land in Bristol, and Beatrice Lees’s edition of the Templars’ 1185 Inquest revealed how extensive their lands on the south bank of the Avon here were. The custodian’s accounts from 1310-13 don’t give much detail of the Templars’ property here, which are descrbed as a main dwelling house with a courtyard and garden, but they do give the names of some of the tenants. In November 1313 the property was handed over to the Hospitallers. The accounts mention that some of the rent was not paid and that the king had ordered an investigation into this, but doesn’t explain that the reason for non-payment was obvious. More about this in the post Bristol is revolting!

Salving the sheep at Cowley and Horspath in 1308

On Wattpad you can find the ingredients for the sheep’s salve used on the Templars’ sheep at Cowley and Horspath in spring 1308: white grease, quicksilver (the metal mercury) and verdigris. The mercury and verdigris would have acted as strong antibiotics, while the grease held the chemicals together and made them stick to the sheep. But the mixture can’t have been kind to the sheep’s hide — or to the hands of the humans who rubbed it on!

Paying the rent: the Templars’ tenants in Horspath

TNA E 142-13 Horspath translation only Horspath corrected without translation

Horspath is a village in south Oxfordshire, east of the city of Oxford. The Templars held a manor here, adjoining their more famous manor of Temple Cowley. On 23 September 1308 the king’s official John of Foxley held an inquiry into the extent of the manor: its acreage of arable and meadow land, the names of the tenants, what they rented and what rent and services they paid in return (see the documents attached to this post). The twelve jurors who were sworn in to give this information provided a long list of tenants who held a villein tenancy or were cottars with a cottage and a smallholding; but there was only one free tenant, Robert of Sautre.

There were men and women listed as villeins and cottars, paying rents in cash on two or four dates in the year and performing labour services such as ploughing, hoeing, weeding and mowing, haymaking and carting grain and hay, and digging trenches. The cottars also had to wash sheep and cut grass in the meadow. Some of this work came with ‘the lord’s food’ — presumably the oat porridge that we have seen being fed to the farmworkers at other estates.

Did Gonnild Moyes (a villein holding a messuage and two virgates of land and paying 8 shillings a year in cash rent) really plough two acres of land each year for the winter sowing and harrow the same, harrow for one day at the Lenten sowing, dig trenches in the lord’s fields for one day, and so on and so on? Some jobs specify that she must provide one man, or four men, to do the work — suggesting that she might not be expected to do it herself. As every piece of work is given a monetary value, it’s likely that Gonnild expected to pay cash instead of carrying out all these labour services, so that the bailiff of the manor could hire men to do the work in her place. The work was worth 6 shillings one farthing, so with her cash rent she owed a total of 14 shillings and one farthing a year for her landholding. As the most expensive work she paid for was worth 3 pence a day for one person, she was paying for a minimum of 56 days of work. So, how many days a year do modern tenants work to pay their rent or mortgage?

The sheep-washing that the cottars owed as part of their rent was worth only a halfpenny a day; but at least the workers did receive food while they were doing the washing. We can hope it was good hot porridge, as sheep-washing must be cold, wet work.

Bristol is revolting!

SC6-851-10 Bristol 1309-14  Translation of Bristol particulars of account 1309-13

In 1309–10 William Randalf, custodian of the Templars’ former properties in Bristol, was thrown out of the Templars’ house. Mayor John le Taverner and his cronies carried off his property and took over the income from the house and its little farm (24 acres of arable land and four acres of meadow) for the next three years. John and three other tenants failed to pay their rent for properties they had leased from the Templars, either because they were involved in the rebellion or because the property was empty and un-lettable (presumably because of the revolt) — I’ve attached my transcription of the document recording these events to this blog.

The revolt was nothing to do with the Templars — John le Taverner and his friends were revolting against King Edward II’s official in Bristol castle, Bartholomew de Badlemere. You can read more about the revolt, and John le Taverner and William Randalf, here and here. But the result of the revolt was that King Edward II received rather less income from the former Templar properties in Bristol than he would have hoped, at a time when he very much needed money.