Temple Hirst, Yorkshire, West Riding

Feature Sets (2)


Temple Hirst is a village in the Selby district of North Yorkshire.  The preceptory of the Knights Templars at Temple Hirst was founded around 1152 and stayed in existence until 1308: the Templars were suppressed in 1311.  It is most famous as the inspiration behind 'Templestowe' in Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.  The site had a complex later history; over the last century when not derelict it has been a farmhouse, public house, and now a nursing home. For more details of the site, see Lee (2011).

The site of Temple Farm as described in Pevsner, has since been been divided up. The old building (in 2013) is now a Care Home. It is largely built of old bricks, with stone footings on the S side. At the W end of this front is a stone buttress patched with brick, and at the E end is a polygonal tower of brick. The only Romanesque sculptural remains are to be found in a re-set doorway on the S side.


VCH Yorkshire III, 259, says 'This preceptory [of Temple Hirst] originated in the grant of the manor of Hirst in Birkin made in 1152 by Ralph Hastings to the order, of which his brother Richard was grand master.' Henry Lacy confirmed this grant; Kellington church was given by Henry Lacy to the Templars. It states that 'a chapel must have been built at Hirst before 1185, as 40 acres in Fenwick were given prior to that date by Jordan Foliot for the support of a chaplain at Hirst'. It was suppressed in 1308.


Exterior Features


Reset doorway

III 1 (i) The doorway has been reset so that the innermost arch is irregularly elliptical, the R side being hunched; the outer order and label are more perfectly semi-circular. There is liberal cement  patching, so that the capitals of order one cannot be seen clearly and impost blocks are not apparent. Order two is only represented by its arch.

Order 1. Detached columns rise from later step without any bases; mostly renewed. Capital with broken, ?plain, necking integral. Sculpture consists of clusters of fluted upright leaves forming three, perhaps four, fans round the lower surface of each capital. The work is best preserved, and perhaps a little finer, on the L, where one fan has beading running up the tallest leaf. Impost possibly missing, or, if integral is represented by the cement; the proportion of the capital would be unusually squat.

In the arch (soffit): plain; hollow; ridge. Keeled angle roll. (face) ridge; hollow; quirk; plain.

Label: Hollow chamfer; keeled roll. The voussoirs of the second order and label are unusually large. 

h. of capital and necking 0.18m
h. of opening 1.94m
R capital, S face 0.25m
R capital, W face 0.25m
w. of opening 0.825m


It is possible that the foliage fans were arranged in the outlines of waterleaves.

The squat proportions, integral impost, capital and necking are late 12th-century features - compare capitals in the arcade at Drax. Similarly, the mouldings of the arches of both orders, and the size of the voussoirs, suggest a late date; compare the chapter-house facade at Fountains Abbey.


  • J.E. Burton, ‘The Knights Templar in Yorkshire in the twelfth century: a reassessment’, Northern History, 27 (1991), p. 28.

  • H. E. Chetwynd-Stapleton, 'The Templars at Templehurst', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 10 (1889), pp. 276-286 and 431-443.

  • J. S. Lee, 'Landowners and Landscapes: the Knights Templar and their successors at Temple Hirst, Yorkshire', The Local Historian (Nov, 2011), pp. 293-307.

  • S. Martin, Temple Hirst, Unpublished MS in York, Central Library (1994).

  • N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England (Harmondsworth, 1959), 2nd. edn. rev. E. Radcliffe (1967).


Site Location
Temple Hirst
National Grid Reference
SE 596 252 
now: North Yorkshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: York
medieval: York
Type of building/monument
Former Preceptory of Knights Templars  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
16 September 1996