Templars in EnglandThe history of the Templars in England starts when Hughes de Payens, Grandmaster of the order visited the country in 1128 to raise men and money for the crusade. The first house was in London and early patrons include Earl Robert de Ferrers, Bernard de Balliol, King Stephen of England and Queen Matilda. Henry II granted them land across England, including some land by Castle Barnard on the River Fleet where they built a round church. They were also given the advowson of St Clement Danes. In 1184 their headquarters was transferred to the New Temple where once again they built a round church.
An inventory by Geoffrey Fitz Stephen reveals that by 1185 they had extensive holdings in London, Essex, Kent, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Salop, Oxfordshire, Cornwall, lincolnshire and Yorkshire. The involvement of Templars in financial matters is shown by Walter of Coventry's story of Gilbert de Ogrestan, the knight Templar accused of embezzling taxes in 1188. He was severly punished by the current Master. In 1200 Pope Innocent III issued a Papal Bull declaring the immunity of persons and goods within the houses of the order. This ensured that the New Temple became a royal treasury as well as the repository for the orders accumulated revenues. These financial resources provided the basis for the development of the Templar's banking faciluities.
King John of England had substatial financial dealings with the Knights Templar. At the time of Runnymede, not only was Aymeric de St Maur present, but King John was also resident at the Temple when the Barons first presented their demands. he gave them the Isle of Lundy as well as land at Huntspill, Cameley, Harewood, Radenach and Northampton.
King Henry III of England also had substantial dealing with them, the king's Wardrobe being located their in 1225. He entrusted Templars with military, financial and diplomatic commissions, and even considered being buried in the Temple. He did infact establish a chantry there in 1231.
King Edward I of England accorded them a slighter role in public affairs, financial issues often being handled by Italian merchants and diplomacy by mendicant orders. Indeed Edward I raided the treasury in 1283.
When Philip the Fair, King of France suppressed the order on October 13, 1307, Edward II of England at first refused to believe the accusations. But after the intercession of Pope Clement V he ordered the sizure of members of the order in England on January 8, 1308. The trial ran from October 22, 1309 until March 18, 1310 in front of Deodatus, Abbot of Lagny and Sicard de Vaur. Most of the Templars acknowledged that their belief that the mastter could give absolution as heretical and were reconciled with the church. However, Willian de la More refused to do so and remained prisoner in the Tower of London until his death.
The papal Bull of Clement V granting the lands of the Templars to the Knights Hospitaller was ignored until 1324. From 1347 the priests started letting part of the Temple to lawyers, from which the evolution of the Inner Temple and Middle Temple as Inns of Court derives.
Masters of the Temple, London