Richard the Lionheart's altar at All Hallows by the Tower, London
Knights Templar are not new to England. There has been a strong Templar presence in this country since the early years of the Order, and the Templars played a pivotal role in the history of mediaeval England. Indeed, in June 1215 the Master of the English Templars, Aymeric de St Maur, was a key person involved in the production and sealing of Magna Carta – the Great Charter – at Runnymede, by King John.
An unequivocal statement of the rights and liberties of freeborn Englishmen, Magna Carta is generally acknowledged to be the world’s very first “Bill of Rights”. Only four copies of the 1215 Magna Carta have survived – two are held in the British Library, the others are in Lincoln and Salisbury cathedrals.
Both Aymeric de St Maur and Sir William Marshal were buried in London’s Temple Church where effigies of Sir William, his son (also William) and other knights can be seen. Before his death Sir William had become a Templar. The Temple area of the City was the headquarters of the English Templars from 1160 until the Order’s suppression.
Another patron of the English Templars at this time was the powerful Sir William Marshal, the 1st Earl of Pembroke, who brokered the peace between King John and the barons, and who played a vital role alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, in preparing Magna Carta.
In addition, the church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower (the oldest church in the City of London) is of huge significance to the Order. Beneath the modern main altar, in the ancient crypt, is another altar which is made of large blocks of stone which were brought back by Knights Templar, from one of their castles in the Holy Land. It was Richard the Lionheart's altar.
In 2012, the Grand Priory of England was at last fully restored, having been first established in 1960 when the Grand Master recognised the need for a priory in England which was not exclusively Roman Catholic.
Today we have members from many different denominations - Anglican, Baptist, Congregationalist, Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Roman Catholic, United Reformed - and so on, all keen to demonstrate our Unity in Christ. More about the Restoration can be found on the pages entitled Latest Investiture and Grand Priory Restoration.