When you picture the English countryside, you think of vast rolling hills with classic pubs, historic villages, memorials, and monuments. You might not be so quick to picture anything related to the Catholic military order, the Knights Templar, also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon. However, hidden below a farmer’s field in the rural town of Shropshire lies exactly that.
An incredible underground cave complex used by the Knights Templar nearly 700 years ago was discovered, hidden beneath a field in plain sight. To enter the complex, one quite literally has to go through a rabbit hole to gain entrance. Once inside, there is a confined system of ornately carved arches, a network of passageways, and a font. Although it has existed for centuries, the cave is perfectly preserved and in its original condition as once used by the Knights Templar themselves for ceremonial purposes. Who exactly were the Knights Templar?
After the capture of the Jerusalem during the first crusade, many faithful began to make pilgrimages to visit sacred sites in the Holy Land. The Knights Templar were founded in 1119, as response to the attacks on those making the journey from Western Europe in order to offer them protection. Named after the Temple of Solomon, where their first headquarters was originally located, they received official recognition from the Holy See through the issuance of a papal bull by Pope Innocent II in 1139.
When the Holy Land was lost, the Knights Templar military influence waned and they relocated their headquarters to Paris, although still retaining great economic influence in Europe. The French King Philip IV was deeply indebted to the Knights Templar and in 1307 created a plot to dissolve them to free his debts. Members of the Knights Templar were brought up on false charges, with some even being burned at the stake. Pope Clement V later disbanded the order in 1312. Today, the Knights Templar are known for their code of honor, distinct mark on architecture across and Europe, and for being the center of many legends and mysteries.