Moated Knights Templar Hospital: Knights Hospitaller Site.
This site is one of the only two Templar hospitals in England. It was defended by a bank, ditch and a wet moat. The remains of the moat measure up to 8m wide in places and c.1.5m deep. There was a causeway crossing the moat.
There are very few remains, but they include earthworks and fishponds. The site is now Eagle Hall Farm, and many of the buildings are built over the original site.
Eagle Preceptory has never been archaeologically investigated.
When the site was used by the Templars it included the following – Church (chapel), mill, main house, storerooms, cellars, pantry, kitchen, dovecote, fishponds, domestic buildings, a dairy, brewhouse, bakery, carpenters’ shop, forge and a cemetery. Human remains have been discovered on the site.
This was a small site in comparison to other Templar sites in England and came under the jurisdiction of Temple Bruer, situated in the same county. Evidence shows that it was used to breed and raise livestock, namely cows and sheep. At one period the site accommodated 663 sheep. Wool was one of their major sources of income.
Eagle Preceptory originally included the churches of Eagle, Swinderby, Scarle, and lands at Mere, as well as the manors of Whisby, Woodhouse, and Bracebridge.
The site held a Holy relic – the small toe bone of St. Sitha, a popular saint during the 13th and 14th centuries. Is it still located on the site?
The hospital took care of injured Templars and was a retirement complex for their older brethren who were accommodated in other domestic buildings on the site.
Records show that Agnes, wife of Richard de Weston was housed at Eagle, and that Simon Streche, the last Preceptor of the site in 1308, went to the Priory of St. Catherine in Lincoln following the Dissolution.
Archaeological findings around the area include,
Although these have not been found directly at the site, they may have been associated with it. As mentioned, there has been no direct archaeological investigation of the site due to it continuously being a fully functioning farm.
Here is a timeline of the site from the information uncovered so far,
12th C Mid: Founded by King Stephen.
1154-1189 The church and mill were granted by Henry II.
1185 Recorded as being on the site.
1298 Six sacks of wool were sold from the Site.
1308 200 doves recorded as being in the Dovecote; 30 cows, and a new carthorse was purchased.
1308 At the suppression of the Knights Templar,
1309 Held by Thomas de Burnham.
1311 The site were no longer breeding sheep
1311-1312 A ploughman was employed by the Templars.
1312 At the suppression of the Knights Templar, the site was passed to the Knights Hospitaller. Accounts were made of the site and its holdings (see above info).
1312-1313 4 carthorses were recorded at the site.
1313 Repairs were undertaken to the roof of the main building. There was a huge reduction in the number of sheep on the site.
1313 June 6th: The lands and site were handed over to David Graham, Knight Hospitaller.
1335 A Commission was held looking into the Knights Hospitaller.
1338 A chaplain and Preceptor, Robert Cort, were in residence. The value from the site was placed at £122 11s 10d. Later in the year the income from the site was declared to the Crown as being only 100s 2d, and this included the holdings of Swinderby and North Scarle as well. It is recorded that there were 16 occupants and the Preceptor at the site. The lands of Bracebridge and Marton were no longer held by the preceptory.
1344 The result of the 1335 Commission found that no Alms were required to be distributed from the site.
c.1358 Administered by John de Anlaby, Knight.
1359 John de Anlaby, Preceptor, was relieved of his duties and he sent an appeal to the Pope to be reinstated.
c.1382 William Langstrother was Preceptor.
1415 Henry Crownhall was Preceptor.
1415 The Eagle holdings were coupled with those of Willoughton.
1436 Sir Richard Pauls was Preceptor.
1444 Robert Tonge was Preceptor.
1454 William Longstrother was Preceptor.
1469 Bailiff of Eagle Preceptory was Sir John Longstrother, Seneschal of the Revereand and High Master of Rhodes, was elected Prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England (Nichols 1847).
1534 John Babbington was Steward.
1541 Charles, Duke of Suffolk held some of the lands. These included rents in North Scarle and Swynerbye; house and lands in Spalfford and Gryton Nottinghamshire; rents from Flawforthe, Meere, Braunston, Hanwarthe, Bracebridge, Northikam, Haddyngton, Whysbye, Faddington, Willingham, Bekyngham, Lampford (Nottinghamshire), Stoyke (Nottinghamshire), Northescarle; and Spiritualities from Marnham (Nottinghamshire), Eagle, Northescarle and Swynerbye. (Public Records Office 1964).
1542 Thomas, Earl of Rutland and Robert Tyrwyt were granted the site by Henry VIII, with some of the lands being granted to others.
1543 William Ramsden held some of the lands.
1546 Charels and John Sutton held some of the lands.
c.1544 Sir Richard Kyster and William Thorpe sought permission to purchase some of the lands.
1635 Site held by John Beresford.
1999 Watching Brief.
2008 Watching Brief.
An archaeological investigation would give us a better understanding of the site and add to its amazing history.
I have been unable to obtain a copy of the booklet The Knights Templar in Kesteven by D. Mills. It looks at the site and will have some more information as to its history. I thoroughly recommend reading it!
References & Bibliography.
Allen. T. 1834. The History of the County of Lincoln: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time. J. Saunders Jnr.
Calendar of the Close Rolls: Edward III, AD 1343–1346, H.M.S.O., London, 1904, p. 313. of the Charter Rolls, AD 1342–1417, H.M.S.O., London, 1916, p. 40; Calendar of the Patent Rolls: Edward III, AD 1374–1377, H.M.S.O., London, 1916, p. 424.
Deputy Keeper of Public Records. 1849. Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records. Volume 10. William Clowes & Son.
De Thame. P. 1857. The Knights Hospitallers in England: Being the Report of Prior Philipp the Thame to the Grand Master Elyan de Villanova for A.D. 1338. Nichols.
Ferguson. R. 2011. The Knights Templar and Scotland. The History Press.
Field. P. J. C. 1999. The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory. D. S. Brewer.
Gray. M. 2013. The Heavens and all the Powers Therein’: The Iconography of the Font of All Saints, Gresford, in its Political Context. In Harriet M Sonne de Torrens & Miguel de Torrens (eds). 2013. The Visual Culture of Baptism in the Middle Ages: Essays on Medieval Fonts, Settings and Beliefs. Ashgate.
Historic England. 2021. Remains of A Preceptory, Fishponds and Post-Medieval Gardens at Eagle Hall. Available online at https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1008316?section=official-listing.
“Houses of Knights Templars: Willoughton, Eagle, Aslackby, South Witham and Temple Bruer.” A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Ed. William Page. London: Victoria County History, 1906. 210-213. British History Online. Web. 26 December 2021. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lincs/vol2/pp210-213.
Jefferson. J. M. 2020. The Templar Estates in Lincolnshire, 1185-1565 Agriculture and Economy. Boydell Press.
Lincolnshire HER. 2021. Eagle Hall Preceptory. Available online at https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MLI60126&resourceID=1006.
Lord. E. 2013. Knights Templar in Britain. Taylor & Francis.
Mayes. P. 2017. Excavations at a Templar Preceptory, South Witham, Lincolnshire 1965-67. Taylor & Francis.
McSheffrey. S., & Pope. J. 2009. Ravishment, Legal Narratives, and Chivalric Culture in Fifteenth-Century England. Journal of British Studies, 48(4), 818–836. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27752632.
Moule. T. 1837. The English Counties Delineated: Or, A Topographical Description of England. G. Virtue.
Nichols. J. G. 1847. Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire 1470. The Camden Society.
Nicholson. H. 2010. Charity And Hospitality In Military Orders. 10.13140/2.1.1946.8487. Conference: VI Encontro sobre Ordens Militares: Freires, Guerrieros, Cavaleiros at Palmela, Portugal. Volume: 1. Project: The Trial of the Templars in Britain and Ireland
O’Malley. G. 2005. The Knights Hospitaller of the English Langue 1460-1565. Oxford University Press.
Public Records Office. 1964. Lists and Indexes: Lists of Lands of Dissolved Religious Houses. Supplementary series · Volume 3, Issue 2. Public Records Office.
Sire. H. J. A. 1996. The Knights of Malta. Yale University Press.
Wynn. D. 2012. Bloody British History: Lincoln. History Press.