From This is Somerset yesterday:
In August we had a talk, which lived up to the promise of its title, The Knights Templar.
The speaker, Juliet Faith, began with a brief history of those armed monks, founded in 1118 on the continent, to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. They became so powerful and rich that they were hounded out or executed in 1307. All their treasures disappeared overnight and many of the knights fled to England where their lives were spared and where they continued as before, setting up preceptories everywhere. Because of their strong links with the Holy Land, they were guardians of a huge number of sacred relics. During the Second World War, a panel painting was discovered, well hidden in the roof of a cottage in Templecombe, the most important preceptory in the South West. The panel bears an uncanny resemblance to the head on the Shroud of Turin, carbon dated to 1280. The Templars had been tried for worshipping an idol in the form of a head, so could the panel have been the lid of a box containing the shroud? It is almost too exciting to think about.