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Temple Balsall

Temple Balall

The The history of Temple Balsall is comprehensively told in two readily available books by Eileen Gooder. The first is 'Temple Balsall: The Warwickshire Preceptory of the Templars and their Fate', ISBN 0 85033 936 7. The second is 'Temple Balsall: From Hospitallers to a Caring Community, 1322 to Modern Times', ISBN 1 86077 102 5. (Both Library ref 942.497).

In the 12th century, the manor of Balsall was gifted by Roger de Mowbray to the 'crusading' monastic order, the Knights Templar. They established a 'preceptory' there where members of the order pursued the monastic life, but also raised money from rents paid by the tenants of the manor to fund crusades. It is believed that the present Old Hall is the original preceptory building dating from the early 13th century. Under the ownership of the Templars, Balsall became known as Temple Balsall.

When the Pope abolished the Templars in 1312 he gifted all of their assets to another monastic order, the Knights of the Hospital of St John. So ownership of Temple Balsall changed and thus it stayed until the 'Dissolution of the Monasteries' by Henry VIII in 1540 and title was seized by the crown.

In 1566 Elizabeth I gave Temple Balsall to Dudley, Earl of Leicester. A few generations and about a century later, two daughters of Lady Alice Dudley, Lady Anne Holbourne and Lady Katherine Leveson, were to set Temple Balsall on a remarkable course towards what it has become today.

When Lady Anne Holbourne died in 1663, she set aside in her will sums to restore the church, which was a victim of the reformation, and to ensure an ongoing ministry there and full ownership of Temple Balsall passed to Lady Katherine Leveson. Lady Katherine bequeathed in her will that:

  • an almshouse for 20 of the poorest distressed widows or spinsters be built at Temple Balsall,
  • a minister be appointed to read scriptures and instruct these women
  • the minister should also instruct 20 of the poorest boys until they could be apprenticed
  • these matters should be overseen by 11 trustees.

After her death in 1674, the emergence of Temple Balsall as it is known today with care home, schoolhouse and Master's House to complement the older Hall and Church, was begun.