Site of medieval preceptory and settlement remains, Temple Garth


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1007689.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 01-Mar-2021 at 02:27:28.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Lindsey (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 92775 93161

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 important.

The remains of the preceptory and medieval settlement at Temple Garth, Willoughton, survive well as earthworks and buried deposits. The site has been largely under pasture since the preceptory was dissolved and has never been excavated, indicating a high level of survival for below-ground remains. Valuable evidence of the relationship of the preceptory to the settlement which preceded it, as well as to the field systems and other features of the medieval landscape, will thus survive intact. Understanding of the monument has been increased by a detailed archaeological survey and there is also some valuable early historical documentation relating to the site.


The monument is situated at Temple Garth Farm, Willoughton, about 500m south west of the church of St Andrew, and includes the remains of the preceptory of the Knights Templars founded in the mid 12th century by Roger de Builli or Bussei and Simon de Canci. With substantial endowments it became the richest of the English preceptories, acting as an administrative centre for the Templars' estates in north Lincolnshire. Following the suppression of the order in 1308-12 the property was temporarily managed by a warden; by 1338, however, it had been re-established by the Knights Hospitallers for the administration of their central and north Lincolnshire properties. The preceptory was finally dissolved in 1540 and the site became part of a working farm. The remains of the preceptory, which are themselves imposed upon part of an earlier settlement at Willoughton, are therefore overlain by traces of post-medieval occupation including farm buildings and dwellings. The monument includes the remains of the preceptory's inner precinct moat with an area of building remains, a series of ditched enclosures representing the remains of the preceptory's outer precinct, and associated earthworks including traces of an earlier settlement and a representative area of ridge-and-furrow cultivation.

To the north west of Temple Garth farmhouse is a deep, water-filled ditch which is up to 12m wide and forms a linear, L-shaped feature. The north-south arm is approximately 150m in length with a break across the middle and an enlarged, eastward curve at its southern tip. The east-west arm is approximately 172m in length and has two southerly extensions. These features represent the remains of the preceptory's inner precinct moat which has been re-cut in post-medieval times. In a corresponding position to the south and east of the farmhouse is a deep, dry ditch of roughly L-shaped form, with a steep inner scarp over 2m high, running for a length of over 270m with a break near the south eastern corner. These features represent further remains of the moat of the preceptory's inner precinct, which can thus be seen to have occupied a roughly rectangular area approximately 255m by 240m. In the north- eastern corner of the precinct is a raised area occupied by a pair of cottages; the north eastern boundary of the precinct is believed to be represented by the present course of Northfield Lane.

In the southern part of the inner precinct, between the farmhouse and the moat, is an area of shallow earthworks, some of which are on the same alignment as the present house. This part of the precinct is considered to be the site of some of the main preceptory buildings including a chapel, living quarters and ancillary domestic and agricultural buildings.

Immediately south of this area of shallow earthworks on the southern side of the inner precinct moat, is a further, roughly square enclosure approximately 100m by 100m. It is linked to the inner precinct at its north eastern corner by a causeway and is bounded on the east and west by an extension to the moat forming a dry ditch on the east, and a linear, water-filled pond on the west. On all four sides are the remains of an internal bank. The enclosure is subdivided by a shallow east-west ditch and a smaller, north-south ditch. This enclosure is believed to be an extension to the inner precinct, subdivided into smaller closes for domestic cultivation such as gardens and orchards.

To the east of this enclosure is another, larger close, approximately 150m by 130m, bounded on each side by a ditch and with an internal bank on the south and east. Inside this close are the earthworks of ridge-and-furrow cultivation. To the north are the remains of a further ditched enclosure, with an internal bank on the west. These two closes form part of the preceptory's outer precinct, where small fields for cultivation and animal enclosure would have been situated. The closes are separated by a linear, east-west bank with a channel on each side, which meets the gap near the south eastern corner of the inner precinct moat. This is considered to represent a causeway leading to an entrance into the inner precinct.

To the south of the enclosures which form part of the preceptory's outer precinct are the earthworks of two further ditched enclosures, a large pond, and a hollow way. The enclosures occupy the south western corner of the site and contain shallow hollows. In the south eastern corner of the site is a hollow way which represents an earlier course of Gainsborough Lane. Between the closes and the hollow way is a large, spring-fed pond containing an island. This pond has been enlarged in post-medieval times through clay-digging for brick-making. This area of earthworks is considered to represent part of the remains of an earlier, secular settlement which pre-dates the preceptory.

To the west of the preceptory precinct is an area of ridge-and-furrow cultivation which is a small surviving fragment of the medieval field system which formed part of the preceptory estate. A sample strip of this ridge-and-furrow, approximately 50m wide, is included within the scheduling to protect the stratigraphic relationship between the preceptory site and the associated field system.

In 1545, following the dissolution of the preceptory, the property was granted to John Cook and John Thurgood. By 1610 it had been sold to the Saundersons (Earls of Scarborough) who let it to a succession of tenants and finally sold it, as a unit, in 1925. The estate created by the Templars and Hospitallers has thus survived largely intact until the present day.

Excluded from the scheduling is the farmhouse which is Listed Grade II, also the stables and outbuildings at Temple Garth Farm, the pair of cottages in the north eastern corner of the monument and all walls and fences, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 293-308
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Lincolnshire: Volume II, (1906), 210-211
Listed Building description, Department of the Environment, Temple Garth Farmhouse [ref. SK 99 SW 2/63], (1985)
manuscript, Mills, Dennis, Some Historical Notes on Temple Garth Farm, Willoughton, (1992)
RCHM(E), Everson, P L and Taylor C C and Dunn, C J, Change And Continuity: Rural Settlement in North-West Lincolnshire, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" 1st Edition Source Date: 1891 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Lincs 44 SW


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].