In 1118 Hugh de Payens and André de Montbard travelled with 7 companions to the Holy lands where they asked the permission of King Baudoin I of Jerusalem to form an order of warrior monks to protect Christian pilgrims on their travels from the coastal port of Jaffa (Tel Aviv) to the City of Jerusalem. They swore an oath of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Cistercian tradition, giving up all their possessions. The symbol that they adopted was of two knights being carried on one horse, this was to symbolize their poverty and the bond of brotherhood between them.
In return for their loyal services, the Patriarch of Jerusalem granted the new order of the Knights Templar the right to wear the double barred Cross of Lorraine as their insignia and provided them with quarters on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that had once been the stables of the temple of Solomon and later the temple of Herod. Nine years later in 1128 at the Council of Troyes, Bernard of Clairvaux the Knights religious champion was able to gain papal recognition for the Knights Templar from Pope Innocent II who had himself once served as a monk at the Abbey of Clairvaux. This effectively made the Knights Templar answerable only to the Pope. Over the next 180 years the influence and wealth of the Knights Templar grew enormously so that they eventually numbered in the region of 20,000 Knights, sergeants and men at arms as well as owning much land throughout Europe, donated to them by rich landowners who sponsored their noble and holy cause.
As well as their activities to protect pilgrims the Templars were responsible for a lot of architecture including the building and improvement of fortresses in the holy lands and the building of many chapels and commanderies throughout Europe. They were also responsible for implementing the first banking practices in Europe, allowing Pilgrims to deposit money with them in France which could later be withdraw against coded chits whilst they travelled on pilgrimage throughout the holy lands. They also provided large cash loans to nobles and kings of France. It was in the early 14th century that King Philip IV became concerned about the increasing power and influence of the Templars who’s attitude had become somewhat arrogant, but he could do nothing about them whilst they were under the protection of the pope. On top of this he owed a lot of money to the order and was virtually bankrupt. So when Pope Benedict XI died in 1304, Philip had Clement V installed as pope and was able to collude with him to allege heretical crimes against the Templars.
This resulted in a massive operation on the fateful Friday the 13th of October 1307 in which fifteen thousand Templars were rounded up and imprisoned. Many of them were tortured by varying degrees until confessions of their ‘heretical’ activities were extracted. Over the next few years, many of the Templars in France were burned at the stake and eventually the order of the Knights Templar was dissolved by papal bull which also stated that their possessions were to be transferred to the Knights Hospatillier. Those Templars who could, fled and the Templar fleet, based at LaRochelle set sail before it could be captured, some ships were known to have reached Scotland and others were believed to have gone as far as Nova Scotia where traces of them were later found.
This spelt the end of the public face of order of the Knights Templar and many of the Templars who survived the persecution were transferred to other orders. Any future activities in the name of the Knights Templar were undertaken in secret or under the guise of other organizations. There is various speculation as to the activities of the original nine Knights whilst they were first housed on the temple mount and it is believed that they searched for and found, the ark of the covenant and the tables of testimony in the vaults of the stables of Solomon under their quarters on the mount. It is believed that these documents contained sacred information that was only shared amongst the inner circle of the order with lesser secrets being passed on to the lower initiates.
With the dissolution of the Knights Templar certain knowledge had to be hidden. You may attempt to pass the nine tests of the Knights Templar to see if you are worthy of becoming privy to a secret known to few. The following verse recounts the last travels of one Knight who escaped Philip’s persecution. The first test that you may attempt is to understand it’s meaning. Later, you will need to be familiar with the technique used by the Templars to encode their messages. You should also posses some knowledge of the background of the first nine Knights.
My final journey starts in Palestine with ever-present dangers to the south and west
I ride alone my noble brothers gone and now I must complete this enigmatic quest
I travel north where stands a fortress on a hill, no work of Templars there I find
This ancient fortress once called home by warriors of a very different kind
And not quite at the summit there I find a monument, a symbol cast in stone,
Upon its top a holy symbol formed of metal offers comfort as I stand here quite alone,
I search for landmarks to the south and east and near I spy the tower of a church
And so on to this place I ride for there I know I’ll find the answer to my search
Upon the southern tower a clock face black and gold and near at hand another, silent version stands
That whilst less grand tells just the same but what is more it bears a date, keep it to hand
Within the chapel’s walls I find the name of Mary Bowden painted there
Above this stands the patron saint of prisoners compassionate and fair
Although best viewed by daylight standing on the northern pew’s hard floor
The carrier of this information can be seen though locked and barred may be the door
You’d then be reading backwards but no matter for you’re bound to see
Another date of great import which you will need to follow me
For with these numbers you may now start on your quest
To follow in my footsteps and so pursue this cryptic test
To see if you would have the mettle and the noble valour
To stand beside the brave Knight Templars in their final battle hour
Take first the year the silent timepiece told beneath the sky’s cold breeze
And add its foremost digit then to L to gain the northern latitude degrees
The second digit should be summed with number three
And you’ll obtain the minutes of the place where next I’ll be
The third and fourth when trebled as a pair will help you find the minute’s fraction
To complete this northing next apply the number 26 by pure subtraction
The second date you found must be considered, please
The year’s first digit then yields up the longitude degrees
Then thrice the sum of all the digits finally reduced by two
Will then reveal the minutes of the westings unto you
The fraction of the minutes with this sequence will you glean
The second digit and then again less two and finally five’s seen
N AB* CD.EFG
If you are sharp of mind and do your best
You may now carry out the second test
You seek two markers with a message clear
The test you’ll take is hidden very near
The Published co-ords are for the 12th century church of St Michael at Knights Enham near the town where I live but there is no cache or clue at this location. Car parking for the cache locations should become obvious when you visit the correct locations. You are advised to take a map and expect some muddy paths. All clues and the final cache are accessible via public rights of way. No fences need be crossed. Please do not enter any MOD land. The total distance to complete the cache is approx 7km and should take approx 3 hours depending on how long it takes to solve the puzzles. Hints are available should you get stuck on any of the clues. Good luck.
Security Advice : Unfortunately, in June 2005 a cacher had his car broken into whilst doing another cache near one of the locations. I hope that this was an isolated incident but please remember not to leave any valuables in the car.