The only upstanding feature of the preceptory at Temple Bruer is the more southerly of the two towers which stood at the east end of the preceptory church. This structure is a Grade 1 Listed Buildingand a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Very full descriptions are provided in the entries in the National Heritage List and interested readers should refer to the links cited. As a result of the archaeological work carried out at the beginning of the last century (St John Hope, 1908) a considerable amount is known about the preceptory church and the three main phases of its development. These phases are set out in the following paragraphs and the place of the tower is described as appropriate.

The second phase dates from the later 12th century. This saw the construction of a porch at the west end but the main developments lay to the east.  The apse was removed and the presbytery extended two further bays to the east. At the same time, or very shortly after, the towers were added to either side of the extended presbytery. The northern tower survived only as foundations but that to the south survives to its full height and preserves a number of important details. Access to the ground floor of the tower is now gained via a flight of  steps to an opening on its north face.

Phase 2

The steps are necessary because the ground level outside the tower is lower than originally. As can be seen from the plan this door opened into the presbytery. To the east of the door are the remains of a double piscina which would have served the high altar. Above the door is a corbel that supported the ribvault of the presbytery roof while to the right  is the triple shafted respond of the south side of the chancel arch. The ground floor room of the tower consists of a ribvaulted chamber with windows in three sides. The main feature of this room is an impressive, though damaged, blind arcade on its west and south sides above a stone bench. At the east of the south side this bench is modified to form a double sedilia and piscina. 

This chapel has been dated to the 14th century and probably represents an addition made to the church by the Hospitallers when the acquired the preceptory in 1312. A window in the south elevation of the tower retains fragments of 14th century tracery and may be dated to the same period. The 1338 extent refers to expenditure on the church and an outlay for wine, wax and oil for the chapel. 

The function of this room is unclear. It may have formed a side chapel to the presbytery or, given the bench and arcading, a form of chapter house. In the north-west corner is a newel stair rising to the upper levels of the tower. The first floor retains the corbels of a now vanished ribvault leaving the tower, at this level, open to the roof. The latter, and most of the upper storey, were rebuilt in the early 20th century. Most of the evidence for the changes made in the third phase comes from features to be seen in the western elevation of the tower and the Buck engraving.

During his archaeological investigations at the site St John Hope (1908) believed that he had identified part of the precinct wall to the  west of the church. The 1306 License to Crenellate referred to 'a certaine part and strong gate' and the 1338 Extent recorded a curtilagio. He also identified a number of slight structures abutting the south wall of the precinct, some of which were probably the henhouse and stables and the 1338 Reprise does refer to provender for the preceptor's horse. A somewhat larger building lay south of the church. This was 36m long and, with a width of 11.5m, would have required one or more lines of posts to support the roof. It was probably a barn. St John Hope was, however,  mistaken in his view that the surviving Temple Farm house incorporated remains of the main preceptory building as this is now viewed as an entirely post-Dissolution structure.

During its first phase the church consisted of a round nave about 15m in diameter. Within, a ring of eight columns demarcated a central area from a surrounding aisle. To the east was a rectangular presbytery of two bays measuring about 8m by 4m with an apse at the east end. Below this lay a crypt and this  may be the feature shown in the bottom left-hand corner of the Buck engraving. No clear indication was found of the fenestration except at the east end of the apse and there was no clear point of access to the nave, though this may have lain on the north side where several rock-cut graves were recorded outside.  This first phase must date from the initial foundation of the Templar preceptory in the middle of the 12th century.

                     Phase 3

                          Phase 1


The former exhibits two roof-lines of a structure that lay between the tower and  the nave; one steeply pitched the other slopping. Turning to the Buck engraving it can be seen that the south wall of the original presbytery was breached to form an arcade while a similar breach was made in the south-east quadrant of the nave. This clearly arises from the creation of a chapel in the angle between the tower and the nave.


         Temple Bruer precinct

Larking, Lambert Blackwell and Kemble, John Mitchell 1857 The Knights Hospitallers in England: Being a Report of the Prior Philip de Thame to the Grand Master Elyan de Villanova for A.D. 1338 Camden Society, 153-156

Page, William 1906 The Victoria History of the County of Lincoln, Volume 2, 212-213

St John Hope, W.H. 1908 'The Round Church of the Knights Templars at Temple Bruer, Lincolnshire' Archaeologia ‚Äč61, 177-198

Toulmin Smith, Lucy 1907 The Itinery of John Leland 1535-1543, London, Georger Bell & Sons