Torphichen Preceptory

West Lothian | Torphichen | Preceptory | ★★

[Torphichen Preceptory]

At the heart of a peaceful village on the edge of the Bathgate Hills, Torphichen Preceptory is the partly surviving, only Scottish base for the Knights Hospitaller, or to give them their full name: the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. This was a medieval organisation of "fighting monks" with their central base in Jerusalem, then Cyprus and finally Malta; their remnants are dispersed throughout Europe but work continues through charities including the St John's Ambulance. Torphichen Preceptory itself dates to the 1140s, but most of the current structure is from the 1400s, with the order essentially withdrawing from the Preceptory after the Reformation in 1560. Nowadays only the transepts, crossing and tower are complete above ground level; other stonework was nabbed to build the neighbouring parish church, leaving only foundations of the cloister, nave and choir. The admission price reflects the fact that there isn't a huge amount to see, but the exhibition in the tower (warning: lots of spiral stairs!) is well worth reading, documenting the story of the Knights Hospitaller through the centuries.


Location & info

📌 Torphichen Preceptory ★★
Bowyett, Torphichen village centre, G.R.: NS 969725 ///wrist.stem.roses
Open weekend & bank holiday afternoons, April to September | £2 adult / £1.50 child / free for Historic Environment Scotland members

[Exhibition in the tower]

[Maltese Cross / symbol of the Knights Hospitaller]

[Torphichen Kirk, with Torphichen Preceptory behind]

[Preceptory and remains of the cloister]


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