Home Kent News Dover’s ancient Knights Templar Church that might not be Knights Templar at...

Dover’s ancient Knights Templar Church that might not be Knights Templar at all

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Original article from Kent Live

Lying next to a main road in Dover, a stone's throw from a residential street, is a beautiful set of medieval ruins.

Known as the Knights Templar Church, the surviving flint and mortar on the Western Heights takes the shape of a rectangular chancel around 10 metres long.

It is believed to have been built in the 12th century.

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Clearly then, the site is an interesting one.

Most experts however seem to be suspicious about its specific Knights Templar origins.

English Heritage calls it the Knights Templar Church as well but describes the links to the famous Order as "tenuous".

The Knights Templar were a military and religious order founded in the 12th century, during the Crusades, to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land and to defend the holy places there.

An artist's impression of a Knight Templar in the uniform of the order, as depicted in an engraving of the 17th or 18th century

They became rich and powerful but increasingly unpopular, and the order was eventually suppressed in 1312.

Apparently the form of the Western Heights ruins mirrors that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and it is this association that has suggested the link with the Templars.

But as English Heritage experts point out: "The port of Dover, the chief departure point for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, was an obvious place for the Templars to have held property.

"But they are believed to have left the town before 1185 and their links to this particular site are tenuous.

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"An alternative interpretation suggests that the building was a wayside shrine on the Dover to Folkestone road."

Experts have also pointed to the fact the site is not listed as belonging to the Order in surviving records.

The Dover area does have strong links to the Knights Templar, however.

They are believed to have established a church at Temple Ewell in 1170.

While only below ground ruins remain from the Preceptory they are believed to have built, they are also believed to have had a hand in the St Peter and St Paul Church that stills stands in the village today.

Apparently evidence of the original Norman work can be seen in the north doorway and the high narrow window in the north wall of the nave.

Some have suggested the Knights Templar may have used the Western Heights building before moving to Temple Ewell, but again an expert says it's "more likely to have been a simple road-side shrine".

Others suggest the shape, a smaller scale form of both the Jersualem church and the New Temple Church in London, suggests at the very least it would have had links to the Order's supporters, even if it wasn't a part of their formal estate.

Either way, it's still an intriguing thing to look at in a prominent location in Dover.

With the Western Heights fortifications and nature reserve trail nearby, there's also plenty of history – not to mention spectacular views – to take in nearby too.

Original Article