Cressing Temple was a medieval manor, an estate given to the Knights Templar in 1137. Their Barley and Wheat Barns, built in the 13th century, are two of the oldest surviving timber barns and amongst the very few Templar buildings to survive in England today. In the 16th century, the manor belonged to the Smyth family who built a Tudor mansion. Later owners pulled this down, but their walled garden and granary remain.
The historic importance of the barns, which also played a role in Cecil Hewett’s pioneering studies of medieval carpentry, prompted Essex County Council to acquire the site in 1987 for the benefit of the people of the county. Displays were installed explaining the history of the Templars, the timber-framed buildings, and the life of a traditional manor, whilst the walled garden was laid out as a Tudor garden.
Today Cressing Temple is of supreme interest for its unique buildings and garden, but is also an increasingly rare example of a traditional Essex farmstead which preserves its buildings intact.