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Temple Manor

Much of StroodPhoto of Temple Manor was a royal manor until Henry II gave it to the Knights Templar around 1159. This was an order of monastic soldiers that had been established to protect Christian pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land. The order became extremely wealthy and, after the Pope made it independent of the authority of his bishops in 1128, extremely powerful too. Its fall in 1307/8 was correspondingly spectacular and violent, as the order was suppressed throughout Europe and its leaders imprisoned and executed.

The Templars had assembled a range of buildings in Strood by 1185, which included a timber hall, barns, kitchens and stables. The stone building, which has survived to the present day, was added around 1240. It consists of a vaulted undercroft supporting a large, undivided first-floor hall, aModel of Temple Manorpproached by an external staircase. This was probably a part of the range of facilities designed for the temporary accommodation of travelling Templar dignitaries.

Over the years this hall was altered and enlarged as it passed through the hands of a number of owners. Many additions have been lost but two fine, 17th century brick extensions can still be seen today. These and the massive internal chimney were built by the Blake family, perhaps the richest in Strood at that time.

The estate was inevitably sold off bit by bit until the City of Rochester acquired what was left in the 1930s and decided to use the site for industrial development. The debate over the future of the house was interrupted by the war and it was not until 1951 that work began to save the building and preserve it in the condition in which it can be seen today.

 

For more information contact Medway Archives and Local Studies by telephone: 01634 332714 or by email: malsc@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Medway Archives and Local Studies, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR