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Historic England Research Records

Cressing Temple Settlement

Hob Uid: 378522
Location :
Essex
Braintree
Cressing
Grid Ref : TL7992418687
Summary : The site of one of the earliest documented grants of land to the Knights Templar Order in Britain. Cressing Temple was the property of Matilda, the wife of King Stephen, and in 1137 she granted the manor to the Knights Templar. The extent in 1309 is recorded as 1287 acres, with mansion house, associated buildings, gardens, dovecote, chapel with a cemetery, watermill and windmill. After 1312, the settlement became property of the Knights Hospitallers. An inventory records a manor house, bakehouse, brewhouse, dairy, smithy, storehouse, and granary. The Great Barns (tree-ring dated to around 1206 and 1256) were not listed, probably because they were empty. During the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 the settlement was plundered and damaged. Extensive repairs were carried out to both barns in the first half of the 15th century, and the re-used timbers in 'The Granary' indicate the construction of a major building or buildings at this time. In 1515 Cressing Temple became a private farm. The site passed to Sir John Smyth and his family extensively remodelled the buildings on the site. 'The Granary' was built in 1623, replacing an earlier building. The Tudor Walled Garden also dates from this period and was linked to the chapel and manor house. Mid 17th century documents record the Temple farm with a house, two great barns, stables, malthouses, gardens and orchards, dovehouses and fishponds, and other buildings, indicating that as well as the manor house there was also a farmhouse. In 1703 the site passed to Herman Olmius, and by 1794 the 'Greate House' had been systematically dismantled. The site eventually passed to WFH Stuart and was transformed, with several buildings erected in 1842-76. After a number of tenants the estate became the property of Frank Cullen in 1913. He modernised the farm and built a garage. Upon his death the farm fell into neglect and Essex County Council now owns the barns (the two largest Templar barns in Europe), other buildings and garden.
More information : (TL 799186) Cressing Temple (NR) (Site of) (NAT)
Chapel (NR) (Site of) (NAT) (1)

The house of Knights Templars at Cressing was donated by Maud (queen of Stephen) in 1136. It was the earliest English settlement of Knights Templars. By about 1250 it was united with Witham. Dissolved in 1308-12 and became the Knights Hospitallers. The house was under a "lieutenant" in 1375 and under a warden in 1381 when it was plundered during the peasant's revolt. Its dissolution was before 1381. Their chapel survived the dissolution and was still extant in 1626. All that now remains are two barns (see TL 71 NE 49, 50).(2-4)

The recognisable extant remains of the Templars establishment are confined to the barns, although the present occupiers of the house at TL 79921872 stated that it dates from circa 1300 at its north east gable. There a little old timbering is exposed high up, but generally the house is later (see TL 71 NE 51). (5)

Excavations by J.H. Hope between 1978-81 identified three main structures coinciding with the establishment of the Preceptory: a chapel, a possible hall and an oven.

Only the gravel footings of the chapel remain to a maximum depth of 28cm. Forty seven inhumations were associated with the chapel. In the late 15th - early 16th century the east wall was rebuilt in red brick, the original wall subsided due to its construction over an earlier cemetery (see TL 71 NE 53).

A second large masonry structure, possibly a hall was excavated. This structure was extended in the 14th century. Between the chapel and the 'hall' was a large food oven packed with 12th century shell-tempered pottery, oyster shell and animal bone (mainly pig bone). The only other structures associated with this period are the still-standing barley and wheat barns. (6)

TL 799187 Cressing Temple scheduled 211. (7)

Additional references. (8,11)

Record restructured. (12)

The site is now open to the public: see the Cressing Temple website for overviews of the history and archaeology of the site, detailed information on the individual buildings, visiting times and events. (13)

Archaeological investigations and documentary research undertaken by Essex County Council HER in preparation for a forthcoming publication on Cressing Temple. (14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1960
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Source Number : 2
Source : Medieval religious houses in England and Wales
Source details : 1971 edition
Page(s) : 292-,300-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : CBA research reports
Source details : DG Buckley, Archaeology in Essex to AD 1500
Page(s) : 120
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 34
Source Number : 12
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : KMF 15-JUN-1995 RCHME Recording
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 13
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : Essex County Council. 2008. Cressing Temple. http://www.cressingtemple.org.uk/ [Accessed 04-MAR-2009].
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Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 14
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Information provided by Essex County Council HER. OCT-2010.
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 3
Source : The Buildings of England
Source details : Essex 1954 (N Pevsner)
Page(s) : 153
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Essex Archaeological Society transactions
Source details : 1923 (RC Fowler)
Page(s) : 110
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 16
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 BHS 06-MAY-76
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 6
Source : Essex journal: a review of archaeology and local history
Source details : 1986 (JH Hope)
Page(s) : 67-71
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22.3
Source Number : 7
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage SAMs Essex 1987
Page(s) : 4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Essex Archaeology Society Newsletter 1980
Page(s) : 15-16
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 71
Source Number : 9
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details : 1981 (SM Youngs & J Clark)
Page(s) : 188
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 25
Source Number : 10
Source : Essex journal: a review of archaeology and local history
Source details : 1986 (JH Hope)
Page(s) : 31-34
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 21.2

Monument Types:
Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : EX 211
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Essex)
External Cross Reference Number : 6009
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Essex)
External Cross Reference Number : 6011
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Essex)
External Cross Reference Number : 6013
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TL 71 NE 19
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 974856
Relationship type : Is referred to by
Associated Monuments : 1527169
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 974863
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 974799
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 974839
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1526965
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON TL 71 NE 19
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-05-06
End Date : 1976-05-06
Associated Activities : Primary, CRESSING TEMPLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1978-01-01
End Date : 1981-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WALLED GARDEN, CRESSING TEMPLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CRESSING TEMPLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CRESSING TEMPLE VISITORS CENTRE (CT 30)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CRESSING TEMPLE VISITORS CENTRE (CT 30)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT CRESSING TEMPLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31