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CRESSING TEMPLE SETTLEMENT

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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.

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