LONG-forgotten graves of members of the Knights Templar have been rediscovered in a village churchyard near Stourbridge.

Researcher Edward Dyas, from Stourbridge, has been investigating the graves after discovering them in the grounds of St Mary’s Church at Enville.

Stourbridge News: The graves of members of the Knights Templar at St Mary's Church at EnvilleThe graves of members of the Knights Templar at St Mary's Church at Enville

The Knights Templar were a wealthy, powerful and mysterious military organisation of devout Christians in the medieval era, formed in 1119 and tasked with providing safety to pilgrims to Jerusalem.

Legend has it that their wealth was coveted by the nobility, however, and they were charged falsely with heresy – and the order eventually disbanded in 1308/9.

It is not known why there are Templar graves at Enville although Templars were believed to attach themselves to churches dedicated to St Mary the Virgin. The church at Enville was built in the early 12th century at a time when the Templars were creating Preceptories around Britain.

The three graves, which are believed to be around 800-years-old, each have a Templar cross within double circles in a standard Templar design and one of the graves also includes a Crusader cross indicating the knight was a Templar and a Crusader of the ancient military order.

Stourbridge News: One of the graves belonging to a member of the Knights Templar at St Mary's Church at EnvilleOne of the graves belonging to a member of the Knights Templar at St Mary's Church at Enville

At the foot of the Crusader’s grave there’s also a Templar Cross - a variation of the Jerusalem Cross indicating the Templar lying beneath had once been part of the Templar Order headquartered at Temple Mount, Jerusalem.

Mr Dyas said: “We believe this grave to be rare in Britain and a remarkable find.

“The knight was probably a Prior or Chaplain, of a Templar Preceptory perhaps in Shropshire but more likely Staffordshire whose Commanderie was at Onneley, near Leek.

“There are three Templar graves at Enville which confirms, we believe, a Preceptory origin since Templar custom was to have one notable Templar with two acolyte assistants.”

Stourbridge News: Edward DyasEdward Dyas

Mr Dyas said the graves have been largely ignored by historians and Stafford Record Office had no information about them but he added: “In 1588, in a survey of Staffordshire, Sampson Erdeswick mentioned one of the graves near the entrance to Enville church. In 1873 an artist came to Enville churchyard and made a drawing of a grave of Roger de Morfe but ignored the far more important Templar graves. Staffordshire historian, Stebbing Shaw, in 1798, visited Enville church and he also failed to notice or describe the three graves. Historic England in its listing of monuments at Enville, during December 1987, noticed there are three grave covers C13th to the north east of St Mary’s. They also had no idea of the significance of these graves.”

He said in light of this, with permission of St Mary’s incumbent Rev Richard Clarkson, he and relative Darius Radmanesh decided to conduct their own research into the mysterious grave slabs.

Mr Dyas added: “St Mary’s former churchwarden Stephen Morley pointed out to us that each year until a few years ago the revived Knights Templar Order, based in Birmingham, presented St Mary’s with an English flag for St George’s Day and he believed this to be significant.”

Mr Dyas and Mr Radmanesh have since cleaned the grave slabs of soil, moss and lichen that has accrued over centuries and their research is continuing and Mr Dyas said: “If anyone has any verifiable information applicable to them if they could let us know by emailing tsaretz591@gmail.com."