HOUSE OF KNIGHTS TEMPLARS
32. THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS OF DUNWICH
There was a house or preceptory of the
Knights Templars at Dunwich at an early date,
for King John, in the first year of his reign, confirmed to them their lands and other liberties at
Richdon in this town. (fn. 1) This confirmation was
strengthened by Henry III in 1227. (fn. 2)
In 1252 the bona Templiariorum de Donewico
were valued at 11s. a year. In early wills
their house was styled Templum beate Marie et
Johannis, and it once occurs as Hospitale beate
Marie et S. Johannis vocat Le Tempil. (fn. 3)
On the suppression of the order of the Templars in 1312, their Dunwich property was
transferred to the Knights Hospitallers. In
1313 John de Eggemere, who had been appointed ad interim keeper of the Templars' manor
of Dunwich, was ordered by the crown to pay
to the Bishop of Norwich the arrears of the
wages assigned to Robert de Spaunton and John
Coffyn, Templars assigned to him to put in certain monasteries to do penance, to wit 4d. a day
for each, and to continue to pay the same. (fn. 4)
There can be no doubt from this entry on the
close rolls that Spaunton and Coffyn were two
of the Templars who had been attached to
the Dunwich preceptory.
Weever, writing in 1631, describes the church
of this establishment as having been a fine building, with a vaulted nave and lead-covered aisles.
The church held various indulgences and was a
place of much resort. It stood in Middlegate
Street, and about 55 rods from All Saints'. The
establishment possessed various houses, tenements,
and lands in the town and neighbourhood, and
their manor extended into Middleton and Westledon. The court of the lordship, called Dunwich Temple Court, was held on All Saints'
Day. The church, styled in wills 'the Temple of Our Lady in Dunwich,' remained in use
until the dissolution of the order of the Hospitallers in 1540, when the revenues of the
Temple manor fell to the crown, and were
granted to Thomas Andrews in 1562, as parcel
of the possessions of the Preceptory of Battisford. (fn. 5)
||Chart. R. 1 John, pt. i, m. 34.
||Ibid. 2 Hen. III, pt. i, m. 29.
||Suckling, Hist. of Suff. ii, 279.
||Close, 7 Edw. II, m. 15.
||Weever, Funeral Monuments, 719; Gardner, Hist.
of Dunwich, 54.