The Medieval Combat Society
Location: Temple Church, Temple, London, EC4Y 7BB
Opening Information: 11.00-12.30 and 13.00-16.00 Monday-Sunday except Wednesday mornings
An earlier church in High Holborn was in use by the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon also known as the Knights Templar, but by 1160 it was considered too small so thay erected a church near Fleet Street, and on the surrounding lands had facilities that allowed the functioning of the order, including military training grounds. As with many of the Templar churches the round church was based on the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and was consecrated by Heraclius, the Patriach of Jerusalem on 10th February 1185, probably with the king, Henry II being present. The round church would have been colourfully decorated with the many gargoyle heads painted. The Temple church and surrounding buildings became the headquarters for the Knights Templars in Great Britain, and was used by the king and papal delegates.
When the Pope issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on November 22, 1307, instructing all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets, Edward II took control of the Temple Church and gave it to the Order of St John, the Knight Hospitallers. At that time the lawyers attending the royal courts in Westminster were looking for home in London, so the Temple was rented to two colleges of lawyers, who became known as the Inner and Middle Temples, and the church became the 'college chapel', and is maintained by them to the present day.
The Temple was important in the functioing of the realm of England, and the he Master of the Temple sitting in parliament as primus baro (the first baron of the realm). In January 1215 William Marshall served as a negotiator during a meeting in the Temple between the barons and king John, the barons demanded that John uphold the rights enshrined the Coronation Charter of his predecessor Richard I. On behalf of the king, William swore that the grievances of the barons would be addressed, leading to John's signing of Magna Carta in June. King Henry III expressed a wish to be buried in the church, so the choir was rebuilt and consecrated on Acension day 1240, however when Henry III died, his will directed his burial to be in Westminster Abbey.
In 1540 Henry VIII abolished the Hospitallers and confiscated their property, including the Temple church, and Henry provided a priest for the church whom had the title 'Master of the Temple'. On 13 August 1608 the King granted the two Inns a Royal Charter giving them use of the Temple in perpetuity, and resolved the issue of them having only been tennants on the site, but they were required to maintain the Temple Church. The church escaped damage in the great fir of london in 1666 and was restored by Sir Christopher Wren and again underwent restoration in 1841 with extensive work on the effigies carried out by Edward Richardson. On 10th May 1941 the church was badly damaged by incendiary bombs during the German Luftwaffe blitz, although the effigies were protected by railway sleepers, the incendiary bomb caused them much damage. Damage to the effigies can be compared with 19th century copies made and now held in the casts collection in the Victoria and Albert museum.
There are 9 effigies of knights in the church, 5 of which have been attributed, but the remaining 4 are unknown, and with the removal of all paint in the 1841 restoration, and subsequent bomb damage make determining who they were meant to represent very difficult. Burton wrote in his History of Leicestershire that there was in the body of the Temple Church a large blue marble inlaid with brass with the inscription “Hic requiescat Constantius de Hoverio quondam visitator generalis ordinis Militiae Templi in Angliâ, Franciâ, et in ….”. Burton mentioned that the following nobility were present: Vere Earl of Oxford, Mandevill Earl of Essex, Marshal Earl of Pembroke, Bohun Earl of Hereford and lord Ros
Geoffrey de Mandeville 1st Earl of Essex born 1092 in Rycott, Oxforshire, died 16 September 1144, Mildenhall, Suffolk, married 1119 Rohese de Vere born 1103, Saffron Walden, Essex, died 1166. Geoffrey succeeded his father William before 1130, and worked on restoring lands that Henry I had confiscated from his father. In 1140 he supported king Stephen and was made Earl of Essex, and had his fathers lands in Essex restored, and in 1141 he was made custodian of the Tower of London, a position held by his father. In February 1241 King Stephen was taken captive in Lincoln and in February 1241 Geoffrey switched sides when Matilda entered London recognising her as Queen, Matilda confirmed Geoffreys position as custodian of the Tower, forgave the large debts his father had incurred to the crown, granted him the Norman lands of Eudo Dapifer, and appointed him sheriff of Essex, Middlesex and London, and Hertfordshire. But before the end of the year, learning that Stephen's release was imminent, he returned to his original allegiance. In 1142 Geoffrey had secret negotiations with Matilda, Geoffrey was deprived of his castles by the king in 1143 after he rebelled and used the Isle of Ely and Ramsey Abbey as headquarters, King Stephen could not afford to let the tower of London fall to Matilda. In 1144 he was hit by an arrow in a skirmish and died of the would, but since he had been excommunicated he was refused burial so the body was wrapped in led and taken to the Templar community in London where he was buried in the chapel.
William Marshal, (Guillaume le Maréchal), 1st Earl of Pembroke (born 1146, died 14 May 1219, Caversham, Oxfordshire) married August 1189 Isabel de Clare (1172-1240) daughter of Richard de Clare, 'Strongbow', the Earl of Pembroke In 1152 Williams father John Marshal switched from supporting king Stephen to Matilda and when king Stephen besieged Newbury castle, William was a hostage whom king Stephen threatened to hang if the castle was not surrendered, John replied "I still have the hammer and the anvil with which to forge still more and better sons!", but king Stephen did not hang William. William was sent to William de Tancarville in Normandy to train as a knight and served in the household of his mothers brother, Patrick, Earl of Salisbury whom William was probably knighted by in 1167. Patrick was killed in an ambush by Guy of Lusignan in 1168 where William was injured and captured, but hearing of his heroic deeds the ransom was paid by Eleanor of Aquitaine. William took part in tournaments and started to make money from ransoms and prizes, it was said that he fought 500 tournaments and never lost.
Henry II appointed William the tutor of chivalry to his son, Henry the young king, in 1170. William supported the young king during the revolt of 1173-1174, but in 1182 William was accused of over familiarity with the wife of the young king Henry, Marguerite of France and William was exiled from court. William went to Henry II and asked for trial by combat to prove his innocence, but his request was refused. Henry the young king died and asked on his deathbed for William to fulfill his vow of going on a crusade. William went on crusade to the holy land from 1183-1186, and whilst in the holy land he made a vow to be buried as a knight Templar. William after his crusade returned to serve under king Henry II acting as his confidant, ambassador, and supported him against the rebellions of the kings sons. When Henry II retreated from Le Mans to Chinon, William could have killed Henry’s son Richard, but killed his horse instead, William was to later serve Richard when he became king Richard I who arranged his marriage to Isabel de Clare in August 1189 and gained the title of Earl of Pembroke.
When Richard went on crusade in 1190 William was in the council of regency, but supported Prince John in expelling the Justiciar of England, William Longchamp, but in 1193 joined the supporters of king Richard. Richard forgave William and allowed him to succeed his brother as Marshal of England. When Richard I died he gave William the custodianship of Rouen and the royal treasure during the interregnum. When king John became king he was supported by William, but when William paid homage for his Norman lands to king Philip II of France they fell out and William in 1207 left for Leinster, Ireland where he built Carlow Castle, Kilkenny castle and the new castle at Emlyn. In 1212 William was summoned to fight in the Welsh wars. In 1215 William was loyal to king John and spoke for the king with the barons. When king John died, he asked William to ensure that his nine year old son Henry would succeed him. William was named by the kings council to act as regent to king Henry III. At the age of 70 he led the arms of king Henry III to victory against Prince Louis of France at Lincoln on 20 May 1217and later in 1217 negotiated a peace treaty with Prince Louis. William Marshal's life is well documented because less than a year after his death in 1219, his eldest son William II commissioned a record of his father's life called "L' Historie de Guillaume le Marechal".
Camden in his Britannia published in 1586 described an inscription on the upper part of the tomb of “Comes Pembrochice”, and on the side “Miles eram Martis, Mars multos vicerat armis’
Victoria and Albert Museum 1st Earl of Pembroke 1219, cast from Victoria and Albert Museum from effigy in the Temple Church
Robert de Roos fourth baron of Hamlake born 1177, died 11 December 1226 or 1227, married 1191 Isabel sister (or daughter) of William the Lion, king of the Scots) son of Everard de Ros and Rose Trusbut. It is thought that the the effigy was moved from Yorkshire. Robert in 1191 paid Richard I 1,000 marks for livery of his lands. In 1197 Robert was serving in Normandy and arrested for an unspecified offence, and was given into the custody of Hugh de Chaumont, however Robert escaped from the castle of Bonville whilst in the keeping of William de Spiney, whom Richard I executed for allowing Robert to escape, and fined Hugh de Chaumont 1,000 marks. Upon reaching the throne king John granted Robert the barony of his great grandmothers father and soon after was deputed to escort his brother in law William the Lion to England to swear fealty to king John. Robert assumed the habit of a monk and his lands and the Castle Weke, Northumberland, which Robert had built, were passed to Philip d'Ulcote, but he soon returned and about a year later was High Sheriff of Cumberland county.
In the barons revolt against king John, Robert initially sided with the king and was made governer of carlisle, but later joined the barons and was one of the 25 Sureties" appointed to enforce the observance of the Magna Carta with the county of Northumberland placed under his supervision. Robert gave alleigance to Henry III and had his manors restored to him in 1217-1218. Robert was witness to the second Great Charter and the Forest Charter of 1224. Robert built Helmsley castle, Yorkshire.
Robert de Roos 1227 cast from the Victoria and Albert Museum from effigy in the Temple Church
Temple Church knight 1230
William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (born winter 1190, Normandy, died April 6, 1231, buried 15 April 1231, Temple Church, London), married 1 September 1214: Alice de Betun, daughter of Earl of Albemarle, married 2: April 23, 1224 Eleanor Plantagenet, daughter of King John I of England. William was in the custody of Roger Fitz Roger and also John de Erley whilst he was hostage to King John during 1203-1212 for his father William the 1st Earl of Pembroke, due to his conduct at court. William supported the barons during the 1215 rebellion and was one of the sureities to the Magna Carta, despite his father William the 1st Earl of Pembroke supporting the king. In 1216 William supported Prince Louis of France and his attempt to take the English throne. In the Autumn of 1216 William withdrew his support for Prince Louis and in March 1217 joined with King Henry III and supported his father, William the 1st Earl of Pembroke at the battle of Lincoln on 20 May 1217. From this point William supported his father loyally until his fathers death in 1219 and succeeded to his fathers lands and holdings on his mothers death in 1220. While William was in Ireland, Llwelyn ab Iorweth supported by Hugh de Lacy attacked and took Williams castles of Carmarthen and Abertavy in April 1222, so William returned to take them back. Hugh de Lacy attacked the land of William in Ireland during the spring 1224. William was appointed Justiciar of Ireland on the 2nd May 1224 and was to take into the kings peace all rebellious barons except Hugh de Lacy. William took Trim castle from Hugh de Lacy in July 1224, and Hugh surrendered to the king in October 1224. On 22nd June 1226 William surrendered his position as Justiciar of Ireland to the king. William spent most of his time in England until he accompanied the king in August 1230 to Brittany where William stayed with Ranulf of Chester until February 1231, when he returned to England. In March 1231 William arranged the marriage of his sister Isabel, widow of Gilbert de Clare, to Richard earl of Cornwall the brother of King Henry III.
William Marshal the Younger 1231 2nd Earl of Pembroke cast from the Victoria and Albert Museum from effigy in the Temple Church
Gilbert Marshal, 4th Earl of Pembroke (born 1194, died 27 June 27 1241, Ware, buried Temple Church, London), married 1: Maud de Lanvaley, married 2 August 1235: Marjorie of Scotland, youngest daughter of King William I of Scotland. Having three elder brothers Gilbert had been intended for an ecclesiastical career and had taken minor orders on May 30, 1225 received the livings of Orford in Suffolk, and on September 19, 1228 of Wigham in Kent on. Gilbert was granted a pardon by King Henry III for taking part in the rebellion of Richard his elder brother. Gilbert was knighted and invested with all his brother’s lands and offices by King Henry at Worcester on 11 June 1235. In 1238 Gilbert joined the king’s brother Richard of Cornwall in his rebellion against the king's foreign favourites. Gilbert and his brother in law Richard of Cornwall took the cross for a crusade on 12 November 1239 at Northampton. Gilbert was about to go on crusade when the king recalled him for service, once again back in the king's favour. Gilbert was killed in Ware at an unauthorised tournament when he was thrown from his horse and dragged across the field, dying of his injuries on the same day.
Gilbert Marshal 4th Earl of Pembroke 1241 cast from the Victoria and Albert Museum from effigy in the Temple Church
13th Century Tomb
Bishop Sylvester of Carlisle 1255
Edmund Plowden 1585
Southern Doorway to Temple Church
People, Grotesques and Gargoyles