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Church of St. Catherine at Temple

Cornish Legends and Myths

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12 July 2010

Cornish Legends

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Close to the rocky heart of Bodmin Moor, the tiny church of St. Catherine at Temple was founded in the 12th century by the illustrious crusading order of the Knights Templars. In those days it served as a small outpost of Christianity, bringing the Gospels to the Godless reaches of Bodmin Moor, and as a refuge for travellers en route to and from the busy ports of Padstow and Fowey. To aid their Christian mission the Knights Templars were granted certain special privileges for Temple Church, including the right to legally conduct marriages without banns or licence.


Thus, many a tainted maiden of doubtful reputation and maternal condition hurried to " tie the knot " at Temple Church without further question. One old writer described the church in memorable phraseology, as " lying in a wild wastrel, exempted from ye Bishop's jurisdiction, where many a bad marriage bargain is yearly slubbered up ". Writer John Norden, visiting in 1584, described it as " a lawless church where many bad marriages are consummated ad where are wonte to be buried such as wrought violent death upon themselves ". Such was the church's reputation at this time that a popular phrase was coined to imply that a certain should be ostracised from local society - " Send her to Temple Moors"!

 

 

St Catherine's church today

 

 

With the passing of the marriage act in 1753, which forbade clandestine marriages, St. Catherine's lost much of its regular, if disreputable passing trade. Though rebuilt on the mid 19th century, inside the church still retains stones from the original fabric inscribed with crosses of The Knights of Templars and their heirs, the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem - forefathers of today's St. John's Ambulance.

 

       

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