Just off the south side of the arterial A30 that cuts the Moor in two one can find Temple. A collection of farm houses and out of the way cottages, there is not much other than the small community that dwell here.
Temple Church is the prime attraction. You see, if you blunder across anywhere in England that has the name ‘Temple’ in it, you can guess, with some accuracy, that the area or buildings had something to do with the Knights Templar at some point. This solid, stolid little church is the only Templar site I know of in Cornwall, although no doubt other areas and buildings would have had connections to the group.
I’m not going to go into reams of detail about the Templars – there really is a great deal of utter shit spoken about them – suffice to say they were an early fraternal order of Knights (wealthy, landed men who were trained to fight) started in the early 12th century, who grew pretty rapidly to hold a great deal of financial, political and military influence across Europe towards Jerusalem. They were a very early form of bank actually and their financial practices and habits of lending earned them a great deal of money and had a lasting influence. This was a time when Europe was largely working together under a fanatical religious imperialism to ‘reclaim’ what is now Israel plus parts of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. I speak of The Crusades, of course. If this all seems a bit familiar then that’s probably because with a few different phrases, ideologies and name changes we can largely take the rhetoric of the crusades and apply them to the modern conflicts in the area. Nice to see we learn.
The Knights Templar were eradicated in the very early 14th century; dislodged, ousted and delegitimised through a fairly transparent but effective campaign of fear and disinformation led by the French King Philip IV and Pope Clement V with the last of the Grand Masters, Jacques de Molay, burned alive in Paris. That’s largely it for the real, historical Templars.
So why the fudge did they built a tiny Church in the Moors? Places like this were refuges and stopping points for pilgrims on their way to various places and pilgrims = money. Irish pilgrims to the Holy Land would often save themselves the perilous seas around the Cape of Cornwall and travel overland from Padstow to Fowey and then onto France. Hence this convenient moorland stopping point, a days hard walk from Camelford.
The Church passed to the Knights Hospitaller after the suppression of the Templars and led quite the life of intrigue and macabre detail afterwards. It remained with the Knights of St. John until the dissolution of all things Catholic and Papal under Mr. the VIII, upon which it somehow managed to retain a legal loophole through which the young and wildly impulsive couples of Cornwall could elope across the moors and marry each other without the need for banns or licence. This was ended in 1753 whereupon the church was left to crumble (which it did so upon a remarkably unfortunate vagrant sheltering inside, killing him). It was rebuilt by the great Cornish architect Silvanus Trevail – who later shot himself on a train to Bodmin, which is perhaps understandable – in 1883 after a community funding effort.
These days this isolated rural church doesn’t have many services and has somehow gained a reputation for the occult and magical rituals, perhaps due to the history, perhaps due to the occult in general having fascination with the Templars or perhaps due to its isolation.
There is certainly an unusual sense about Temple Church though, its interior is remarkably spartan. It has simple wooden chairs rather than ornate pews, it is also pleasingly entirely lit by candlelight and the altar is a very basic oak table with a dusty copy of the bible placed upon it. The walls are clean and whitewashed and lead to a bare slate floors and a relatively simple oak beam ceiling. The whole building feels like an empty scene – a set, strangely calm and serene.
As far as I would ever go is to say that places have feelings to them and Temple Church has a particular feeling. A lot has happened on this little patch after all. I have no idea about the details of the rituals undertaken here by witchy-folk, but generally speaking (I am a layman) ritual that takes place on overtly Christian land tends to be somewhat dark in nature – as it is meant to be intentionally blasphemous to Christianity. I don’t really care what happens here to be frank. People believe what they like, but certainly each thing that does happen here adds to the building’s intriguingly rich and often macabre history.