Those who have read Ian Wilson’s The Turin Shroud, will quickly recognize the name of the village and know the story. For others, it’s new.
John Vallins writes a weekly column for The Guardian News called “Country Diary.” This week he wrote:
You might just catch sight of the name Templecombe on a station sign if you are on a train speeding westwards on the Waterloo to Exeter line, through a green Somerset landscape of fields dotted with black and white cows. Other villages close by, with their narrow, winding streets better suited to horse-drawn traffic than today’s freight wagons, and old stone dwellings built to house an agricultural community, have a traditional rustic character. But Templecombe was once a significant railway junction. The view of the ancient church is partially blocked by the low railway bridge, though perhaps you might spot the old manor, and some stone houses by the sharp bend where the ancient yew tree stands.
A small book, Abbas and Templecombe: A History, by the late Audrey Dymock Herdsman, an artist who lived in the village, points to some of what the passerby may miss. The parish traces a history from well before the Domesday Book. Abbas, so called because it was part of the land held by King Alfred’s abbey at Shaftesbury, is the northern part. Templecombe, to the south, having been in the hands of Norman nobles, was granted to the Knights Templar in 1185. Not much evidence of their stay remains, but the book tells of a discovery in 1945, as it was related to Mrs Herdsman in 1986.
"Come and see what I found in my shed," one Molly Drew had called out to her neighbour. She had discovered a big picture covered in cobwebs. When dusted down, it showed what looked like a head of Christ. Notified to the bishop and viewed by experts, it proved to be a panel painting, later carbon-dated to 1280, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the image on the Turin shroud. The suggestion is that this was a Templar treasure, once hidden, and preserved for modern eyes by chance.