Banks, beehives and cooking pots: the Templars’ estates in Norfolk and Suffolk20 January 2015
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.
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