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    THE STORY OF SHOREHAM       TEMPLARS AND HOSPITALLERS  
                       
We also find that Alan Trenchemere made a grant to the same religious body of " a selion of land "-a long narrow strip of indeterminate area-in front of his house at Shoreham, " extending from the door of that house to the sea, to hold the same in frank almoigne." This grant was witnessed by Philip and Ralph de Hastings, Roger de Wyka, Berenger de Apineto,. Viel, son of Berenger, Siward de Bolonia, William Trenchemere, James the Clerk, Master Richard de Hastings, and Jordan, his esquire.   apparently ceased to exercise their religious functions at Shoreham although still owning the property. In 1253 Brother Rocelin de Fos, Master of the Templars in England, entered into a covenant with William Bisshop of Staninges (Steyning) and Dionisia, his wife, granting to them a messuage in Shoreham which Maud de Temple held of the Templars. They were to hold it for life at a yearly rental of 20s. and were to maintain the houses and chapel in that messuage. On William's death a third part of his goods was to go to the Templars as an obit and on the death of the longer liver the property was to revert to the Templars.   This covenant was signed at London during Eastertide, 1253, and was witnessed by Hugh Waldefare, Philip de Hollburn, John de Beauchamp, William le Mercer, Finian de Shoreham, John Swele, and Peter de Bosco.
These grants, as the term " frank almoigne " implies, rendered the grantees for ever free from every kind of earthly service to the grantors in respect of them so long as the lands remained in their hands, being perpetual tenure by free gift of charity.  
The Knights Templars, a military Religious Order, having its origin in the Crusades and known as the Brothers of the Temple of Solomon, was founded in the year 1118, but, it is believed, had no possessions in England until about the year 1134. In the county of Sussex they had a Preceptory at Shipley, near West Grinstead, and another at Saddlescombe, near Poynings. How they came to acquire their land at Shoreham is not quite clear, but during the Pontificate of Alexander III., who reigned from 1159 to 1181, they were already established in the town. The setting up of this military-monkery had become a thorn in the flesh of the Abbot of St. Florent, who, as patron of the parish church, regarded the Templars with jealous eye and no little disfavour.  
  In 1292 Guido de Foresta, the Grand Master of the Templars, granted to John and Matilda Lote the lease of the tenement and chapel in New Shoreham called " La Temple " so long as they should pay to the Templars at Saddlescombe the sum of 20s. per annum and should keep the house and chapel in repair.
  In the year 1308 Edward II. seized every Knight Templar in the realm and committed them all to prison on charges of practising profane rites. By the application of cruel tortures confessions were wrung from many of them. Some were burnt at Smithfield and the order was totally abolished. In the valuation of their property in Sussex mention is made of their house and chapel at New Shoreham. This, and all other Templar possessions, was granted to the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem, which order, as we have before noted, had long been their near neighbours at Shoreham.
The Abbot complained that the Knights Templars " had built an oratory within the parish of his Church at Shoreham, infringing thereby on the rights of a monk of St. Florent, who held the same by the authority of the Roman Pontificate." A covenant was therefore entered into between the Abbot and the Templars.   In this document it was stated that " the Templars having received full papal licence to build and maintain a church and chantry on their own lands, it is agreed that the chapel shall be upheld where it is on condition that the Templars collect no tithes and do not admit the parishioners to daily service or to burial, but that after hearing mass in their own parish church on solemn days and Sundays they may resort for devotion to the chapel, while passengers and strangers only are allowed to make voluntary oblations there."  
  Disputes between the Knights of St. John and the Abbot of St. Florent quickly followed. At length the former were forbidden to appoint one of their own order to officiate as a priest in the chapel. Finally it was agreed that they were to be permitted to nominate a secular clerk to minister there but he was to hold his appointment as from the Bishop of Chichester, to whom he was to pay the same canonical obedience as was due from the incumbent of the parish church.
  You will find in the street nomenclature of the town, John Street ; formerly it was St. John Street-probably a faint echo of those far-off days when the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem flourished in the town. The street in question,
  By the middle of the thirteenth century the Templars had  
                       
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002