The remains of Willoughton Preceptory (NGR SK92789320), also known as Temple Garth, lie about 10km east of Gainsborough and 21km north of Lincoln. They stand at 35m OD and consist of a complex of earthworks south-west of the village of Willoughton. The earthworks are a Scheduled Ancient Monument while the 19th century Temple Garth Farmhouse is listed at Grade II.


The only archaeological work recorded at Willoughton is the detailed survey of the earthworks undertaken by Everson et al (1991), 218-20 and the plan at the top of this entry is based on their survey. The principal precinct lies at the north end of the site and measures 240m by 160m. On the north and west this is defined by a water filled moat and by earthworks on the east. The south side is obscured by the buildings of Temple Garth farm and by further earthworks which extend 340m to the south-west. The status of these earthworks is unclear. They form a series of sub-rectangular enclosures, demarcated by banks and ditches. Three interpretations may be suggested. First, they might be part of the preceptory complex. While a number of sites examined do have annexes none have such a complex and extensive series of additional enclosures and there is no indication of these facilities in the 1338 Extent; the preceptory building (capitale mesuagium), chapel and dovecot are all likely to lain within the main precinct. Secondly, they may ante-date the foundation of the Templars' preceptory and represent the remains of some of the tofts forming part of the original endowment. Thirdly, and most likely in my view, they mark the expansion of the site after the dissolution of the preceptory.


A full summary of the documentary history is provided by Page (1906) . As the alternative name (Temple Garth) indicates, the preceptory at Willoughton was initially a Templar establishment. Founded during the reign of King Stephen the endowment included a substantial township of 23 tenants and 24 tofts. It became the admistrative centre for the Templars in the north of Lincolnshire and continued to fulfill this roll when it passed to the Hospitallers in 1312, the 1338 Extent recording 14 membris ​in addition to the preceptory itself.


The document simply lists the details for Wilughton and its membris without describing it as a bajulia or camera.  ​Listed at the preceptory is a capitale mesuagium (principal house) and garden valued at 13 shillings and four pence, a dovecot worth six shillings and eight pence and a windmill worth 20 shillings, though this is unlikely to have been on site. Other sources of income included rents, court dues, labour services, agricultural lands and part of the value of the church at Wilughton

Turning to the Reprise​ the personnel listed included two ordained brothers, one a chaplain the other a sargeant-at-arms, the former being the preceptor. There were three corrody holders, one with his own servant. There were also three secular chaplains, a squire, a steward/bursar, a cook, a baker, a chamberlain for the preceptor, two teachers and two pages. In addition stewards for the properties in Lyndeseie (Lindsay) and Grimesby were based at Willoughton. Other expenses noted included wine, wax and oil for the chapel, a building which is also mentioned in 1392 (Calendar of Patent Rolls 1391-6 (1905), 152).

In the separate ​Reprise for Gaynesburgh (Gainsborough) expenditure is listed for the repair of the churches and buildings in whole ​bajulia.

​Willoughton preceptory was dissolved in  1540.

Willoughton Preceptory; water features in blue, earthworks in green

Everson, P L; Taylor, C C and Dunn, C J 1991 Change and Continuity: rural settlement in north-west Lincolnshire, HMSP, 218-220.

Larking, L.B. and Kemble, J.M. 1857 The Knights Hospitallers in England Camden Society, 144-151

Page, William 1906 The Victoria History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2 , pp. 210-1