My newest script project is called, “The True Templar Knight.” It is based on a real Templar knight named Stephen de Staplebrigge who was forced by the Pope and the King Edward II of England to become a Monk in 1319. His grave is located in the south cemetery at Christchurch Priory in Dorset, England. In 1908 the lid to his crypt was discovered during some renovation on the church property. The lid was rediscovered in 1995 by the church historian. On the crypt lid was engraved a Templar sword in expensive marble. Stephen was both an ex-Templar and an Augustinian monk.
I researched his story about being captured in 1311 after being on the run since 1308 when the King of England had all Templars in England arrested an interrogated. If they confessed they were forgiven and allowed to serve our their life as a Monk in one of the many orders in England. Stephen was tortured because he was a Commander of the Templars at Dinsley manor where many retired Templars lived and also a great treasure was supposed to be hidden there. He admitted under torture about his acceptance into the Templar Order in England in 1297 where after the ceremony he was taken into a secret room behind the altar by Brian de Jay, Commander of England and shown secrets of the order in an inner temple secret. He was afterward sent to a monastery at Surrey, England in 1313 where he escaped and was recaptured in Salisbury a year later.
This time he rotted in Newgate prison in London, England for five years. Thanks to an official bull order from the Pope, all Templars in jail in all countries were released and allowed to join the monastery of their choice to serve as a novitiate the rest of their life.
Stephen was released to the Christchurch Priory in Dorset, England where he had his hair cut in the procedure known as tonsure with the puddling bowl look for all Augustinian monks. In 1348 he died and was buried in Christchurch priory cemetery.
Is that the whole story, no. Stephen was one of the leading Commanders at the age of 21 in 1308 when the arrests in England began. Why did he flee and not surrender like so many Templars did. It was stated by his brother templars that he was in Ireland at the time of the arrests. Why Ireland? Why not Scotland? Did Stephen have the treasure with him? Even the King of England wanted the Templar treasure at Dinsley and arrested two templars and threw them into the Tower of London and had many people search for the hidden treasure. No treasure was even found.
Stephen returned from Ireland at some unknown date and was on the run staying in safe houses and caves for four years before he was arrested by the Kings Sheriff. Perhaps as a Commander for the Knights Templar Stephen may have been part of Grand Master Jacques de Molay ‘Grand Plan,” to secretly move all Templar treasure and religious relics to secret locations and eventually on ships to Scotland, Spain and Portugal after Oct.13,1308. Friday the 13th.
The English Templars had it good compared to the French Templars. King Edward II refused to arrest the at first. It wasn’t until the Pope forced him to arrest the Templars for heresy that he complied. The effort was poorly organized and many Templars fled. Some were arrested and many were old and died in jail. Eventually all English Templar Knights were allowed to join monastic orders. All of the templar lands were seized by King Edward II and eventually given to the Hospitaliers in England. It was a sad end to two hundred years of service and sacrifice by the Templars for the Pope and the Holy Catholic church.
A secondary theme of the story is why did the Templars lose faith in the Pope? Was it because Pope Innocent III allowed 20,000 cathar christians in southern France to be burned at the stake and their castles burnt to the ground. Men, women and children were slaughtered by the 8th Crusade against the heretics with 10,000 commoners, gypsies and Lords and Knights in the Crusade. Montsegur was a castle stronghold of cathars that held the Holy Grail and some original Gnostic Gospels which were secretly taken out of the castle before it surrendered and 205 women and men were burnt at the stake at the bottom of the castle path.
The Templars had roots in the Cathar region with Brian de Jay and many others having families that were slaughtered there. The betrayal of the Templars mirrored the slaughter of the Cathars by the Pope and that is why the Templars had an inner temple where they followed gnostic traditions and Cathar ideas that Jesus was just a man and not a God.