Torphichen Preceptory

Torphichen, United Kingdom

Torphichen Preceptory is a church which comprises the remains of the preceptory (headquarters) of the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in Scotland. It was built in the 1140s around an existing church, possibly of early Christian origin. During the 13th century the Preceptory was expanded, and the buildings which still stand were first erected. The complex included a cruciform church, with a nave, central tower, transepts and choir, whose tower and transepts remain, and a number of domestic buildings including a hospital. The church was extended again in the 15th century, and a cloister completed, of which only the foundations remain. Very unusually, this was situated on the north side of the church.

After the Reformation, the nave of the Preceptory church was converted for use as the parish kirk, with the rest of the buildings falling into disrepair. Nevertheless, the surviving crossing of the church (below the central tower) retains some of the best-preserved late 12th-early 13th century masonry in Scotland, with refined architectural detail. In 1756 the nave and domestic buildings were demolished, and a new T-plan kirk built. The kirk is furnished with early 19th Century box pews and galleries. The remnants of the Preceptory were used as a courthouse for a number of years.

A 'sanctuary stone' in the kirkyard marks the centre of an 'area of sanctuary' that once extended one Scots mile around. The east and west 'sanctuary stones' still stand in their original positions. It has been suggested that these stones are of much earlier origin than the medieval Preceptory, possibly being related to the important Neolithic henge and burial mound at Cairnpapple Hill, to the east.

The large kirkyard has a fine collection of 17th–18th century headstones, with much intriguing 'folk art', including symbols of mortality, tools representing professions etc.

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Details

Founded: 1140s
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Terry Meyers (12 months ago)
Great history and plenty of information inside at the top of the tower which makes a rewarding adventure for kids.
bruce davidson (2 years ago)
Interesting building with a lot of historical interest. Available as a venue for weddings and other occasions. David at the ticket office a nice knowledgeable chap . If you are in the area its well worth a visit .
Marcin Grzelka (2 years ago)
Great place to see. Specially if you love Templar history.
Jerry Chilik (2 years ago)
Great place to see and learn about the Knights Templar.
John Maloney (2 years ago)
A fascinating place to visit for those interested in church history and architecture.
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