The Knights Hospitallers of the Order of
arose as a group of individuals who had founded a hospital in Jerusalem
around 1023 to provide care for the poor, sick or injured pilgrims to the Holy Land. After the Western Christian, conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the first crusade the
organisation became a religious and military order and it was charged with the
care and defence of the Holy Land. To
finance their exploits in the Holy Land the Knights Hospitallers received many
gifts of land and estates in
to be worked to generate revenue. It was one of
several military orders of which The Knights Templar are another. This order
was disbanded in 1312. On the suppression of the Templars in 1308, efforts were made by the
Hospitallers to get themselves declared heirs to the Templar possessions, their
claim being supported by the pope. Chibburn Preceptory was, it would appear, an
original possession of the Hospitallers.
The Preceptory of the Knights of St John was defended by a moat enclosing an area circa 100 yards diameter. The buildings formed a parallelogram having a courtyard in the middle, a dwelling house on the west, a chapel occupying the entire south side and various offices on the north and east sides. In the chapel; human bones have been found and a grave slab forms the threshold of the door leading from courtyard into a stable. The upper portion of a stone coffin is in one of the windows. The walls of the chapel are of excellent workmanship, and represent the sole remains of the Preceptory of the Knights of St John. The chapel was used as a pillbox during the Second World War.
St Andrews Church, Hartburn
The church shelters near to the east end of the small
The tower is mainly late 12th / early 13th Century with traces of its Saxon heritage. Into the east, side of its doorway there has been a Maltese cross and two daggers incised into the stonework giving rise to speculation that the Knights Hospitaller or Knights Templar passed this way.
As you enter the church, you are faced with a money chest that Oliver Cromwell is said to have used to transport his wealth. There are two substantial 13th Century coffins and a 12th Century baptismal font. There is a plaque in the memory of the Revd John Hodgson, a famous historian of Northumberland who was vicar of Hartburn from 1833 to 1845.