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Some History of Temple Old Kirk

Dissolution and Persecution


As the Knights Templar became wealthy from the extent of their operations across Europe, they acquired land, built castles and owned their own fleet of ships, and lent large amounts of money to many heads of state in Europe, particularly the Kings of France, who continued to remain in debt to the Order. 

At the same time the battle for the control of Jerusalem and the Holy Land continued. The Muslim world was at its most effective when united under the leadership of Salah ad-Din, as demonstrated at the battle of Hattin, when a decisive victory by their forces meant that

Jerusalem was no longer under Christian control.


By the end of the 13th century, with a brief exception, opportunities for pilgrimage came to an end, and the main justification for the Knights Templars' existence disappeared. 

Nonetheless, while the Order retained its privileges,

resentment towards them increased, and following Philip IV's expulsion of Jews from France in 1306 to write off his debts to them, it seemed inevitable he would do the same to the French Templars the following year.


He ordered the arrest of the Grand Master of the Order together with the rest of the French Templars and charged them with a range of crimes that included blasphemy, idolatry, financial corruption, fraud, secrecy and homosexual practices. 

Pope Clement tried briefly to defend them against this attack, but by 1312 he was pressured into dissolving the Order. 

Temple Church, London

Although some descriptions survive of the Templars' exploits in battle in the Holy Land, little information survives relating to the organisation of their estates in their home territories. 

We know that Scotland, along with Ireland, formed part of the English province and that the Templars' estates in Scotland were all accountable to the Master at Ballantrodach, who was himself responsible to the Master of the Temple in London.


Temple Church sits between the Thames and Fleet Street, and gives its name to that area of London in which it stands. It follows a Templar convention, a round church to echo the shape of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, that is 17m in diameter. A rectangular church was later added to serve as the chancel when the Round Church could be as it is now, the nave of the Church. 


Two years after their arrest and their forced confessions which were later retracted, the Grand Master of the Order and the Preceptor of Normandy were both burned at the stake. 

At least 100 other French Knights Templar were also tortured and executed in the same period in the early years of the 14th Century. 

In England, Edward II came under pressure to do the same, and he

eventually ordered the arrest and imprisonment of over 200 members of the Order. Most were tortured into confessing to one crime or another. 

In Scotland however, only two men were brought to trial. The rest vanished amidst the chaos brought about by Robert the Bruce's guerrilla war against the English.  

plan of temple church.jpg

Plan of the Temple Church, London (1805)

Etching after J.L. Bond,British Museum

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