Ancient Pedigree of Our New Chapter House
Ancient Pedigree of Our New Chapter HouseFollow @KnightsTempOrg
Ancient Heritage Confirmed – the history behind our ‘new’ Chapter House
The 21st century functionality of the Lower Chapter House is balanced by the skilled craftsmanship and sympathy with which the ancient walls of the original building have been saved and restored. Even before the work began, historical research had established that the unusually thick main wall was built as part of the fortified settlement constructed by Protestant settlers in 1620.
Local legend has always maintained that the defences were built with stones taken from the great Cistercian abbey, left in ruins by the Reformation some seventy years earlier.
In widening a narrow doorway, we found the most dramatic and indeed fitting confirmation of the truth of this old story. As the rubble infill was removed, a strangely shaped stone was emerged.
As the old lime mortar and the dust of centuries were brushed off, something truly astounding emerged: The headless and armless remnant of a medieval stone bust – clearly taken from the Cistercian Abbey.
Whether this was originally a sculpture of a saint, an angel, or a benefactor of the abbey, will probably never be known. What is certain is that this remarkable find was first carved by a master mason and displayed in the elaborate ecclesiastical complex at the end of the twelfth century – when the first incarnation of the Knights Templar Order was at its very peak. Any brethren from the extensive Templar possessions in Ireland stopping in the Abbey for a night – perhaps while on their way to one of the ports of the north east coast - would have seen the newly installed bust in all its pristine glory!
The battered remnant which we found in the wall is thus a truly remarkable and very real link to the first ‘Time of the Templars’. As such it now occupies pride of place in the restored complex, reminding us of the great and ancient heritage we cherish and share as the Time of the Templars dawns again!
It has all taken a great deal of work, and could not have been done without the extraordinary generosity of our brethren, donors and supporters. The whole Chapter House is a remarkable achievement, and one which – God willing – will allow the Knights Templar Order to power ahead with our vital mission to apply traditional, muscular Christianity to dealing with the challenges and seizing the opportunities of our turbulent times.