This book is a Gazetteer, recording the churches and commanderies in Great Britain of the Knights Hospitaller at the time of their dissolution by Henry VIII in 1540.
The military organisation of the Knights of St John (the Hospitallers) in the east Mediterranean in the Middle Ages required a vast network of lands in Western Europe to support it. Commanderies were set up to supervise these lands
This book in its introduction briefly analyses the medieval history of the Hospitallers before looking in greater detail at the setting up of commanderies in Great Britain from the 12th century onwards. In the early 14th century the demise of the Templars and the papal grant of their land to the Hospitallers doubled the wealth of the latter so that in the later Middle Ages they seem to have become the greatest individual landowner after the Crown. Such wealth inevitably attracted the interest of Henry VIII and the Order was dissolved in England in 1540. It was briefly revived under Queen Mary but then dissolved again under Elizabeth I.
The bulk of the book is a photographic Gazetteer looking at the possessions of the Hospitallers (including churches) in the individual counties of England and Wales with shorter entries on Scotland and Ireland.
The author, Michael Hodges, was born on Holy Innocents Day, 1952, the son of Captain Michael Hodges RN. He was educated at Eton College, where he was a King’s Scholar, and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. He worked in the City for Morgan Grenfell and HSBC from 1973 to 2012, concentrating on the Middle East. He was Chairman of the Middle East Association 2010 – 2012. In 1989 he married Veronica. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1995. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Deputy Lieutenant for Wiltshire, a Trustee of the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust, a Trustee of the Victoria County History of Wiltshire, a Trustee of Caritas Anchor House (Canning Town) and a Knight of Grace and Devotion / Chancellor of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. In the past he was Chairman (and founder) of the Friends of Wiltshire Churches and Joint Treasurer of the Church Monuments Society. He lives in London and Wiltshire.