Templar Tittle Tattle

As is my wont, I got chatting to one of the volunteers in a museum we visited whilst we were away. It soon became apparent that this fellow was on my wavelength and a lover of the odd and curious. He revealed that he had recently read a library book about the Knights Templar and I, in turn, filled him in a little about our trip to the Temple church in London a few weeks ago. People love a mystery and the Templars seem to fill that need perfectly. We agreed that much has been written about this enigmatic group of men and much attributed to them. He suggested in passing that I might like to pop into a local village which has a Templar connection all of his own. Donning my deerstalker a la Sherlock Holmes Aril decided to investigate....

Templecombe. According to the village website the name is derived from Combe Templariorum after the Knights established the Templecombe Preceptory in 1185. A preceptory was a monastery for this military order. Well that proves that the Order was definitely in the area.

Did I find myself my very own Templar....well no I'm afraid. This was what I went in search of....

The famous Templecombe painted panel which has been inside the church since 1956. It's rumoured to be one of a series of portraits which belonged to the Templars. What is definite is that carbon dating has proved it's from 1280 onwards and the Templars were not suppressed until 1307. One theory is that they brought the Holy Shroud [aka the Turin shroud] back from their crusades and this image was influenced by it. I frankly don't think it holds water as the Turin shroud image is so much more realistic and looks more like a photograph. Nobody is even sure who it is...probably Jesus or maybe John the Baptist. Apparently the lack of halo was common at the time including in Templar iconography.

As to the facts...it was found in 1945 by Mrs Drew who was the tenant of Mrs Topp. She had popped out to get wood from the outhouse for the fire when she happened to look up and noticed the face looking down at her. It had been wired to the ceiling and covered by plaster to hide it away, some of which had fallen down. Must have been quite a shock. After the picture was handed over to the vicar he decided to do a spot of his own restoration and gave it a good scrub in the bath with Vim which has sadly removed a fair amount of the original paint which was still present! Whether you believe this piece of painted wood is Templar or not it's a relic which wouldn't have survived had it not been so carefully secreted away for us to wonder and ponder over in years to come.



  1. Templar or not, that's a wonderful story.


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