Reasons for Designation
A preceptory is a monastery of the military orders of Knights Templars and
Knights Hospitallers (also known as the Knights of St John of Jerusalem). At
least one preceptory of the Knights of St Lazarus is also known to have
existed in England. Preceptories were founded to raise revenues to fund the
12th and 13th century crusades to Jerusalem. In the 15th century the
Hospitallers directed their revenue toward defending Rhodes from the Turks. In
addition, the preceptories of the Templars functioned as recruiting and
training barracks for the knights whilst those of the Hospitallers provided
hospices which offered hospitality to pilgrims and travellers and distributed
alms to the poor. Lazarine preceptories had leper hospitals attached. Like
other monastic sites, the buildings of preceptories included provision for
worship and communal living. Their most unusual feature was the round nave of
their major churches which was copied from that of the Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem. Indeed their use of such circular churches was unique in medieval
England. Other buildings might include hospital buildings, workshops or
agricultural buildings. These were normally arranged around a central open
space, and were often enclosed within a moat or bank and ditch. From available
documentary sources it can be estimated that the Templars held 57 preceptories
in England. At least 14 of these were later taken over by the Hospitallers,
who held 76 sites. As a relatively rare monument class, all sites exhibiting
good survival of archaeological remains will be identified as nationally
The preceptory at Dukes Place, West Peckham survives comparatively well, with
the area around the standing buildings almost completely undisturbed by later
construction. Documentary sources combined with the archaeological remains and
environmental evidence contained within the site can provide an insight into
the economy and way of life peculiar to a preceptory of the Knights
The monument includes a preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers situated on the
eastern edge of the modern village of West Peckham.
The preceptory includes a 15th century timber-framed building, Listed Grade I,
the buried foundations of associated medieval buildings and other associated
medieval remains below ground level, contained by a moat of which one arm is
The standing remains, which are excluded from the scheduling, comprise an L-
shaped range of half-timbered buildings on a stone plinth, with close-studding
and plaster infill. The back range has been dated to the early 15th century
while the north range, including the hall and solar, was rebuilt in about 1500
after being burnt out.
To the south is a section of ditch 40m long aligned north east to south west.
This has become partially infilled over the years but is visible as a slight
earthwork up to 4m across. The area around the building, which has remained
undisturbed since its construction, contains the buried remains of activities
undertaken during the medieval period and directly associated with the use of
the preceptory. These are likely to include the remains of outbuildings such
as workshops, barns and stables, as well as the gardens.
Documentary sources record that lands at West Peckham were granted to the
Knights Hospitallers in 1337 by Elizabeth de Burgh. These lands were then
incorporated into the magisterial camera. The preceptory is believed to have
been founded in 1408.
Excluded from the scheduling are the inhabited building, fences, gates and
posts, although the ground beneath all these features is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.