A RESEARCHER investigating long-forgotten graves of members of the Knights Templar believes Enville church near Stourbridge was a Templar church.

Edward Dyas, from Stourbridge, has been digging into archives after discovering three graves belonging to members of the ancient order in the grounds of St Mary’s Church at Enville.

The Knights Templar were a powerful military organisation of devout Christians in the medieval era, formed in 1119 and tasked with providing safety to pilgrims to Jerusalem. Falsely charged with heresy, the order disbanded in 1308/9.

Mr Dyas, with relative Darius Radmanesh, has been researching the history of the graves found at Enville, believed to be around 800 years old, and since clearing away vegetation he has found two of the graves were previously located inside the church.

He said a 1588 survey of Enville by Sampson Eardeswick confirmed his suspicion and he added: “He mentioned only one gravestone to the right of Enville church entrance.

“Searching historical surveys of Staffordshire and Enville - we were fortunate to come across a series of drawings, dated 1820, of graves inside Enville church, drawn by one of the most renowned architects in England, John Chessell Buckler.”

One of graves in the church porch appeared to be a Templar grave and Mr Dyas said: “Most church porch burials are of priests or clergyman.”

There was also a drawing of a Templar grave in the church’s chancel - described in 1820 by Buckler as having a faint inscription reading ‘Roger de Morfe’ who was the son of Henri de Morfe who was granted the Enville fiefdom by the wealthy de Bermingham family and who transferred part of Morfe Forest to the Templars.

Mr Dyas said: “We are fortunate Buckler came to make these drawings. Without his efforts these Templar graves found inside Enville church would have been lost to us. “ According to Mr Dyas’s research, the chancel of Enville was built by Roger de Bermingham – a priest at Enville whose family owned all Enville land including Morfe.

Enquiries established the Roger de Morfe grave was moved to the south side of the church and it became evident, following extensive studies, that the left and centre gravestones were those drawn by Buckler in 1820 inside the church and they’d been moved outside by architect George Gilbert Scott in 1872.

Mr Dyas said: “We believe Enville church was under the patronage of the Templars.

“We know from Buckler’s drawings of the three Templar graves found inside the church and one in the porch. We also have the grave outside of the Templar who had once been at Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“There is also the connection with Henri de Morfe and the de Bermingham family, selling their part of Morfe Forest to the Templars when Roger de Bermingham was the Catholic priest at Enville.

“Somewhere on the Enville estate there was a Templar cell or Preceptory, we would suggest in Morfe.”

He said in 2009 the Vatican was able, from its archives, to admit the Templars had been falsely accused of heresy and they were exonerated by the Catholic Church and he added: “We were recently advised that in Vatican archives there is a catalogue of all Templar graves so one day someone may even discover who the Templars interned at Enville were and the location of their Preceptory.”