Preceptory at Old Dalby


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009174

Date first listed: 05-Feb-1993


Ordnance survey map of Preceptory at Old Dalby
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Melton (District Authority)

Parish: Broughton and Old Dalby

National Grid Reference: SK 67582 23341


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 preceptory at Old Dalby is one of only four such sites in Leicestershire. The earthworks will contain the below ground remains of the buildings which were recorded in the 18th century.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument at Old Dalby is situated on a spur of land, south of the village, 8km north-east of Melton Mowbray, and includes the below ground remains of the Preceptory buildings.

The below ground building remains are represented by earthworks standing to a maximum of 0.5m high. On the south-east side is a square enclosure, with an internal dimension of about 20m. There is a long mound to the north of the enclosure. To the west of this are the earthwork remains of a rectangular building 70m long and approximately 15m wide and divided in two places at the north end. A late 18th century writer recorded the location and remains of the preceptory. The function of the various buildings has yet to be ascertained.

A preceptory of the Knights Templars was founded in the early years of Henry II reign and was in use until the suppression of the order in 1312. Ten years later the site was granted to the Knights Hospitallers, whose order was dissolved in 1540. A 13th century pilgrim flask from an abbey at Burton on Trent and a late 15th century pilgrim badge from Walsingham were found on the site in 1980.

The earthwork remains of stock enclosures surround the buildings of the preceptory but do not survive well and are not included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 17097

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hartley, R F, The Medieval Earthworks of North-West Leicestershire, (1987), 12,38

End of official listing