Fosbrooke T.H. 1922 'Rothley. I The Preceptory' Transactions of the Leicetershire Archaeological and Historical Society 12 (1921-2), 1-34

.... 1954 'House of Knights Templar: Preceptory of Rothley' A history of the County of Leicstershire Volume 2, 31-2

REFERENCES

The preceptory hall lay to the south of the chapel and was connected with it by the 'tower', though ​as has been seen this was an addition to the original plan. The hall now forms the dining room of the hotel. Apart from the door through the north wall leading into and from the 'tower' and another opposing it in the south wall, the only medieval remains are the four walls themselves. The original dimensions of the hall appear to have been 15.4m by 6.5m. This was probably originally open to the roof and may have been aisled.


Nothing survives of the other buildings of the preceptory listed in the 1309 Extent. These probably lay to the south and west, access being gained through the south door of the hall and the west door of the 'tower'.

The 'tower'

The space between the chapel and the preceptory hall is occupied by the small structure known as the 'tower' which effectively serves as a porch. This measures 4.5m by 3.3m.  The ground floor has a groined roof the ribs of which rest on four corbels. The fact that this building is an addition is shown by the way the moulding round the chapel door had to be cut away to accommodate the vault.  In addition to the entrance into the chapel, the ground floor of the 'tower' had openings in its east and west walls, the latter now blocked, and through the south wall into the preceptory hall. There is a first floor room lighted by a single lancet in the east wall. Entrance to this room is provided by a narrow passage through the hall wall at first floor level, implying either an internal stair or that the west end of the hall was floored. Fosbrooke (ibid 15) interprets corbels in the first floor room to imply an additional, third, storey to the 'tower', perhaps justifying its sobriquet.

There are  problems with this ​view. The evidence for the former existence of the partition wall is provided by the chase in the plaster which had abutted the wall. However, within the chase can be seen an earlier layer  of plaster with traces of wall painting and texts. Fosbrooke (op cit​) describes the latter as Elizabethan homilies and, if he is correct, the partition wall must be a post-Reformation feature. The List description does, however, describe the paintings as medieval.  It is also the case that the horizontal hacking away of the window mouldings is very crude and if this marks the floor level of the upper room there would barely have been 2m headroom in the lower room. Last, the insertion of the floor cut through the fenestration at the west end of the chapel. Given that the Hospitallers went to the trouble and expense of  completely renewing the main, east window, it is unlikely that they would have considered the arrangements at the west end of the chapel acceptable. Overall, it seems likely that the partition and inserted floor date from after the Hospitallers use of the chapel. 

Fosbrooke (ibid Plate 1)​ published a survey of the arrangements of the rooms at Rothley in the late 19th century. This shows that up until 1894 the chapel was divided in two with a partition wall at the position of the central tie-beam. While the eastern portion remained open to the roof as a chapel, that to the west was floored, the ground floor being identified as a wine cellar, the upper floor as a laundry. The partition and floor were removed in the early 20th century but evidence for them remains in the form of a chase in the plaster of north and south walls and a rough horizontal hacking away of the mouldings around the three western lancets. Fosbrooke speculated that the provision of this floor might have been a modification attributable to the Hospitallers and cited Low Chibburn as a parallel (ibid ​19).

Roof detail

The north and south walls rise 6.1m to the eaves and the ridge stands at 11.1m. The present roof is clearly a replacement as it partly obscures the east window. It consists of five tie-beam principals dividing the chapel into four bays. Fosbrooke speculated that the original roof may have been of the crown post type noted at theSwingfield Preceptory but that roof has now been dated to the late 14th century. A fragment of what may have been an earlier roof at Rothley survives at the southern end of the second tie-beam from the west. This looks like the base of a hammer-beam truss, but as such is unlikely to have been part of the original roof as roofs of this type are rare before the 14th century.

The double piscina

Chapel, north elevation

The chapel was built about 1240 by the Templars, though some modifications were carried out by the Hospitallers. Internally, it measures 14.6m by 6m, with the eastern 3.5m being raised about 0.18m. It is lighted by three Early English windows in the north wall, three in the south wall and single further example in the west wall. The east window is quite different, being in the Perpendicular style and can be attributed to the Hospitallers. This replaced an earlier triple lancet window dating from the time of the chapel's construction. The replacement probably  occurred towards the end of the 14th













century or early in the 15th. The chapel is entered through an opening at the west end of the south wall while at the east end of the same wall is a double piscina. ​​

Rothley Camera (after Fosbrooke) 

The archaeological remains of the Hospitallers' camera at Rothley are described in detail by Fosbrooke (1922) and the following account is based  on his publication, supplemented by a field visit in the spring of 2015. The site comprises three components: the chapel, the hall and a small structure linking them and described as the 'tower' but effectively a linking porch. Both the hall and the tower have been incorporated in later buildings of 16th and 19th century date.

ROTHLEY CAMERA; archaeology and references