The Knights' Preceptory

ruins of the Knights Preceptory near West Witton ruins of the Knights Preceptory near West Witton

The Knights' Preceptory in Wensleydale was ruined monastery which was once a house of the Knights Templar (more formally known as the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon or the Order of Solomon's Temple), and later the Knights Hospitallers (more formally known as the the Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem).

Little is left of the actual buildings, though the base of walls and some stone coffins can still be seen. The site is located near the bottom of the north western flanks of Penhill close to the villages of West Witton and Aysgarth, and the site is often referred to as the Penhill Preceptory.

The preceptory was originally built by the Knights Templar around 1142. The Knights Templar were dissolved in a series of purges leading up to the persecution and the execution of its leaders Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney in 1314, with the preceptory having passed to the Knights Hospitallers in 1312 (most probably following the "Ad Providam" Papal Bull which was issued by Pope Clement V to transfer property from the Templars to the Hospitallers that same year).

Nearby are the Sorrelsykes Follies which are far more recent (having been built in the 19th century) but whose exact history is obscure.

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