In the English village of Enville, several long lost graves of Knights Templar have been unearthed. Researcher Edward Dyas chanced upon the medieval tombs while investigating St Mary’s church, a building that dates back to the medieval period. The graves were reported by the Stourbridge News to correspond to a “standard Templar design”.
Enville is a village in Staffordshire recorded in the Domesday Book. That’s the voluminous survey of England conducted by the Normans after they defeated the previous Saxon rulers of the country at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The current St Mary’s church has a Norman nave, 13th century chancel and a Victorian tower added in 1871. But there’s evidence a much older Saxon church once stood on the site.
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Dyas believes these Templars were based at a place called Onneley, which was part of the Templar preceptory at Keele in Staffordshire. This land was given to the knights by King Henry II, father of Richard the Lionheart, in the year 1168.
They expanded their interests rapidly but in 1308, after the Templars had been crushed across Europe, the preceptory and all its holdings across Staffordshire were taken back by the monarchy. The Templar estate eventually ended up in the hands of the rival Knights Hospitaller – as happened to a lot of Templar property.
Dyas thinks one of the graves is that of a Templar chaplain. The other two are “acolyte assistants”. The Templars are often described as warrior monks but they weren’t strictly speaking priests and only the designated chaplains could say mass and administer the holy sacraments. So, this may be the last resting place of one of these chaplains.
All of which begs the question why these Templar graves hadn’t been noticed before. Well, according to Dyas they had – but that was back in 1588 in a local survey. But incredibly, descriptions of the cemetery in the 18th and 19th centuries completely overlooked the Templar graves. With the permission of the vicar, Dyas and colleagues have cleared away slabs of earth, moss and lichen to reveal these crusading Templars in all their glory – no longer lost and forgotten.
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