Temple Manor, Strood
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Medway (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 73305 68547
Reasons for Designation
A camera is a subsidiary farm of a preceptory (a medieval monastery of the
military orders of Knights Templar or Knights Hospitaller).
Camerae are very rare in England with less than 40 known examples. In view of
this rarity, and their importance in supporting the monastic communities of
the preceptories (examples of which are also rare), all camerae exhibiting
archaeological survival are identified as nationally important.
Temple Manor has a well-documented history, and has undergone a variety of functions since it was founded in the 12th century. The structure has survived c.600 years of almost continuous use and contains numerous well-preserved architectural features dating from the 12th/13th century until the 17th century. The site has been associated with a variety of owners, from the Crown, the Knights Templars and Hospitallers, to more local, wealthy families.
The monument includes the upstanding and below-ground remains of the Knights
Templars manor house and `camera' at Strood. The upstanding remains, which are
Listed Grade I, include a 13th century stone hall on a vaulted undercroft,
with 17th century red brick extensions to the east and west. The monument
stands in an industrial estate in Strood, to the west of the River Medway.
The site of the monument was part of a royal manor until c.1159 when Henry
II granted it to the Knights Templars along with all the dues and
administrative rights of the Hundred of Shamel in which it lay. Due to the
nature of Templar organisation, there were never more than c.150 Templars in
England, of which only one in ten were knights (in 1308 there were only six).
The majority would have been `sergeants' or `brethren' who served mainly as
administrative clerks. At a manor such as Strood it is unlikely that even two
brethren would have been in permanent residence, and it is more likely that a
lay-reeve or bailiff would have been installed to administer the estate.
The stone hall is visible as a two-storeyed rectangular building 15.2m by
6.86m externally, constructed in flint and ragstone rubble, with accurate and
elaborate moulded ashlar dressings and Purbeck marble shafts. The hall is
supported on an undercroft which has walls 0.8m thick. It is of three bays of
quadripartite ribbed vaults, with squared chalk filling between the ribs.
Excavations have revealed that the first addition was made to the camera in
the early 14th century, when a timber ground-floor hall, approximately 4.26m
wide, was added on the northern side. In the 15th century a timber-framed
wing, 4.87m by 8.23m, which contained a parlour with chambers above, was added
to the west of the ground floor hall, running northwards. Thus the ground-
floor hall was reduced in status to become the kitchen, and another range of
domestic offices was added running north beside the timber wing. In the
17th century further additions were made including red brick extensions to the
east and west.
The exact origin of the stone hall is uncertain, but it is thought to have
been built about 70 years after the Templars acquired the manor. It is thought
to have served as a `camera' to provide suitable lodging for Templar
dignitaries travelling between London and Dover. A more simple house close by
would probably have served for the bailiff. Archaeological excavations have
shown that between c.1308 and 1344, many of the scattered timber buildings
which had served the needs of the early manor at Strood were demolished,
leaving the stone hall as the nucleus of a compact house. Archaeological
evidence also indicates that occupation at the manor of Strood continued
undisturbed by the political upheavals of the early 14th century, and by
that time it is thought that the manor had already been converted into a farm
for money rent. A burial to the south east of the camera was also discovered
by excavation, though it is thought that this may be Roman in date. The
Knights Templars were renowned for their managerial and administrative skills,
which helped to make them a wealthy organisation. Unfortunately, their
secretiveness and wealth also made them the subject of rumour, speculation and
envy. In 1307 King Philip of France decided to seize the possessions of the
Templars (having already stripped the Jews in his kingdom of all their
possessions). The Pope attempted to prevent him, but since he was practically
a prisoner of the king, he was forced to support him, and sent legates to make
other European sovereigns follow the French lead. By 1312 the order was
dissolved throughout Christendom, and the Pope insisted that their possessions
should pass to the Knights Hospitallers, rather than to those monarchs who had
dispossessed them. Whether the Hospitallers actually drew any rent from many
of these possessions is uncertain, but a few years after the dissolution of
the order, the Grand Prior of the Hospitallers complained that the king was
still occupying, or had recently re-occupied certain Templar estates at Denny
in Cambridgeshire and Strood in Kent. In 1324 the Grand Prior formally ceded
these manors to the king.
In 1336 Edward III granted the Templars' house at Denny to his kinswoman,
Mary of St Pol, Countess of Pembroke. She refounded Denny as a house of
Franciscan nuns, and as a place of retirement for herself and her entourage.
In 1342 the king also granted her Temple Manor at Strood, as an endowment for
any religious house she pleased, and in 1344 she gave it to Denny. It is
likely that `the Temple' remained rented out to farm. The convent at Denny was
dissolved in 1539, and its property at Strood was granted to Edward Elrington,
who in turn sold it to the Cobham family, the lords of the Hundred of Shamel.
In 1603 Lord Cobham was convicted of conspiring against James I, and his
property and lands were seized by Robert Cecil and sold for profit. Strood
thus passed to Stuart, Duke of Richmond, who sold it, just before the Civil
War, to Isaac Blake and his family, who are thought to have been tenants of
the estate for many years. The Blake family held the estate until the 18th
century, when it was sold on to various families who combined farming with
commerce and gradually divided the estate up. In the 1930's the City of
Rochester acquired what remained of the estate for industrial development, and
although a use was sought for the manor house, none was forthcoming. In 1950
guardianship of the site was offered to the Ministry of Works. Unfortunately,
the building was in a state of decline - the great barn was lost, as was the
15th century timber wing, although the remainder of the building was preserved
and rebuilt. The building is now in the guardianship of the Secretary of
All upstanding and below-ground remains of the structure are included in the
scheduling. All modern features including the post and wire fences, the
concrete and gravel area in the north west of the site, wooden fencing, modern
brick walls and the English Heritage information board are excluded from the
scheduling, 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
Rigold, S, Temple Manor, (1962), 5-14
Rigold, S E, 'The Archaeological Journal' in Two Camerae of the Military Orders, , Vol. CXXII, (1965), 86-132
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