According to legend, the Knights Templar was founded in 1118 AD to protect pilgrims heading for Jerusalem and the Christian Holy places, where the small band of warrior monks established a headquarters. In the year 1118 AD King Baldwin II granted the Templars quarters on the Temple Mount and this forms the link to the Royal Arch.
Many men, of noble birth, joined the ranks of the Templar Order. Those who were unable to join often gifted the Templars with land and other valuables.
Modern Masonic association with these medieval defenders of the Christian Holy places is linked by the ceremony of Installation in which the Candidate takes the part of a Pilgrim who, by symbolically embarking on a Crusade, is elevated to Knighthood.
The earliest reference to modern Masonic Knight Templar activity in England can be found in the minutes of the Chapter of Friendship (Royal Arch) in Portsmouth, dated 1778, where it was worked as an Appendant Degree. In 1791 a Grand Conclave was formed comprising seven ‘Encampments’ with Thomas Dunckerley as Grand Master. By 1873 ‘Grand Conclave’ was now known as ‘Great Priory’, and ‘Encampments’ were now known as ‘Preceptories’.
The ceremony is very realistic and the regalia spectacular, based upon that worn by the Medieval Knights.
Prospective Candidates must be a Master Mason, a Royal Arch Mason and Christian.