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Knights Templar-style crosses at an abandoned ‘haunted’ church appear to have an innocent explanation.
I spotted two red crosses, similar to those used by bloodthirsty monastic military order the Knights Templar, at St Mary’s Old Church, in Clophill, Bedfordshire.
I was surprised to see the historic red cross markers, which resemble those made famous by the Knights Templar – historical warriors who came to prominence during the Crusades to the Holy Land.
I visited the site a few years ago during a walk when I discovered the blood-red symbols daubed onto the walls of the 400-year-old ruin.
It was intriguing to see what looked like Knights Templar crosses on the wall of the church. I did not know how they got there, but this church is about 400 years old and the Templars were brutally purged in around 1312, so it appeared either these crosses were the work of youths with an interest in history, or they were painted by a society of so-called neo-Templars, which I have encountered previously. Either way I was fascinated.
The church is renowned locally for sinister goings-on, with alleged grave robbing in the 1960s and yobs performing would-be Satanic rites with dead chickens in more recent history.
The site has been so plagued by cranks and wannabe cultists that CCTV has been installed to ward off night time visitors.
However, it turned out there was no Templar involvement in the markings.
Emily Hakansson, assistant warden, at Clophill Heritage Trust, told me: “The crosses you are referring to were uncovered during the restoration of old St Mary’s Church and are left over from pre-Reformation days in the sixteenth century. These would have been common in churches, you can actually see them in Canterbury Cathedral, but most were lost over time or painted over during the many religious changes in England over the last five hundred years.
“There would originally have been 14 of these crosses and they were part of ‘The Stations of the Cross’:
“The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. The 14 devotions, or stations, focus on specific events of His last day, beginning with His condemnation. The stations are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage as the individual moves from station to station. At each station, the individual recalls and meditates on a specific event from Christ’s last day. Specific prayers are recited, then the individual moves to the next station until all 14 are complete.
“The Stations of the Cross are commonly found in churches as a series of 14 small icons or images – ours are seen as painted red crosses and three and a half are still currently visible. They can also appear in church yards arranged along paths. The stations are most commonly prayed during Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays, and especially on Good Friday, the day of the year upon which the events actually occurred.”
She added: “They do not have any connection with the Knights Templar I’m afraid and we are very lucky that they were preserved so that we can still see them today – as I mentioned most were destroyed or painted over or simply lost to time.”