The full title of the order is The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St. John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta in England and Wales and Provinces Overseas.
This sublime Order of Christian Freemasonry, often referred to as Knights Templar or K.T., is open to all Royal Arch Masons of good standing and who profess a belief the Christian Faith. The Headquarters of Great Priory are located within Mark Masons Hall in London. The Provincial Priory of Nottinghamshire was constituted in 1856 and is home to eight Preceptories, including the oldest one in the Order, namely Abbey Chapter Preceptory Letter" A", which is said to have existed from time immemorial. Each Preceptory meets three times a year.
The Chivalric Order was founded around the year 1119 by two French knights, Hughes de Payens and Godfrey de St. Omer, primarily to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land on their travels to and from the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Originally known as the "Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ", the Knights were of aristocratic or 'gentle' birth and took monkish vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. They were granted buildings on Temple Mount, or Mount Moriah, within the religious grounds that once had enclosed the Temple of Solomon Later, the name changed to the Knights of the Order of the Temple, more commonly known as "The Templars".
The Order grew in wealth and numbers and such was the trust placed in the Templars by Kings and Sovereign states that they acted as Treasurers for much of the Christian world.
This wealth eventually proved to be their downfall and they were suppressed and their estates confiscated, around the year 1307 by King Phillip Ie Bel of France and Pope Clement V.
Around 1740, in response to the Papal Bull of 1738, a number of Masonic degrees with a Christian background appeared in France and gradually spread throughout Europe. The most important of these were a Masonic Templar Rite and a Rose Croix Degree, neither of which has any historical or ritual connection with the old military orders or with the mediaeval Rosicrucians.
The historic Order of the Knights of St John was founded in Jerusalem during the first Crusade, about the year 1099, by the association of many pious Knights with the Brothers of St. Johns Hospital, which had been founded in 1048, for the relief of pilgrims travelling to worship at the Holy Sepulchre.
It is not known how or precisely when the Templar-Malta Rite reached the British Isles but traces of it are found in the 1760s. In all cases the degrees appear to have been adopted by Royal Arch Chapters and, at first, worked by them under their existing warrants. The present-day ritual dates from the 1850s when it was felt desirable to introduce a measure of uniformity but is built around the core of one dating from the 18th century.
The accolade of Knight of the Temple and Holy Sepulchre and of Knight of the Ancient and Masonic Order of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta are conferred at separate meetings The ceremonies are profound and exciting, and the regalia colourful and evocative of chivalric pageant The United Orders of the Temple and of Malta reinforce the tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth and are regarded by many as the pinnacle of Freemasonry.