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Real life Da Vinci Code unveiled as Knights Templar graves found in English village

The church is even linked to "England's greatest knight", who was the inspiration for Lancelot in Arthurian legend.

The graves represent a crucial discovery in understanding the Knights Templar (Image: SWNS)

Graves belonging to mysterious holy militia the Knights Templar have been discovered in an English village in what has been described as one of the "most nationally important discoveries".

The medieval order had chapters across Europe after springing up in the 12th century, and was known for its role in the Crusades and as one of the Middle Ages' most powerful and wealthy religious organisations.

Eight graves in the style of the Knights Templar were discovered at St Mary's Church in Enville, Staffordshire.

The new discovery represents one of the most important in historians' understanding of the knightly order, which was widely known as the focus of fictional Professor Robert Langdon's research in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

Historian Edward Spencer Dyas, who made the discovery, believes the church could be one of the most important in the country where Templars are concerned, with its particular link to "England's greatest knight".

The graves had on them the crest of the Knights Templar (Image: SWNS)

This knight is William Marshal, the 1st Earl of Pembroke. He was a jouster, warrior, diplomat and even twice de facto king.

He was also the inspiration for Lancelot in medieval Arthurian tales, and is understood to have drafted the Magna Carta.

He was invested into the order of the Knights Templar just before he died aged 73 in 1219.

At St Mary's, stained glass windows depict an array of coats of arms including one that belonged to Hugh Mortimer of Chelmarsh, who married Marshal's granddaughter.

Many find this to be the only connection between the church and the Knights Templar to explain why so many graves were discovered there.

When the church was built in the 12th century, the Templars were creating Preceptories - a type of monastery - around Britain.

Each of the eight graves features a Templar cross within double circles in a Templar design, while one includes a Crusader cross, suggesting the knight was both a Templar and a Crusader of the ancient military order.

Mr Dyas said: "I believe these discoveries make Enville one of the most nationally important churches in the country.

"That's due to its close links with William Marshall, who is considered of the greatest warriors England ever produced.

"But there is a mystery of why an European Templar is buried at Enville and why they were secretly so prominent there."

But despite inspecting the crypt of the church, the historian could not find any further connections to the Templars.

The wealthy medieval organisation was made up of devout Christians tasked with providing safety to pilgrims to Jerusalem.

In 1129, the Knights were officially recognised by the Pope and by 1180 there were some 600 of them in Jerusalem, Tripoli and Antioch.


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