An elaborate network of secret tunnels and passages created by the Knights Templar has been discovered beneath Hertford, the ancient county town of Hertfordshire.
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Local historians were aware of only one part of the network which was mapped in a document on public record dated 1898. numerous tunnels, many of which were blocked during the last century, and shows photographs of two other entrances. The existence, extent and purpose of the tunnels were leaked by members of a mysterious secret society in the area said to be related to the Knights Templar and the Illuminati. These revelations are restoring Hertfordshire to its rightful place in Templar legend, and literally put Hertford on the map in the Quest for the Holy Grail, and there is more to come.
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Members of the Knights Templar, a secret society which still has members in the town, have spoken for the first time about the underground lair used by their forebears almost 1,000 years ago. Emanating from the dungeons of Hertford Castle and from Fore Street, the passages run like a warren under the ancient county town and stretch from Bluecoats to County Hall, according to the group. Today, many of the entrances to the subterranean passages have been bricked up but, according to the modern-day knights, some are still in use &emdash; and may even be booby-trapped.
There is an extensive labyrinth of tunnels under Hertford
We are talking here about a largely unknown, indeed mostly secret, ancient underground network that stretches beneath the towns main street and extends to Fore Street, Market Square, Parliament Square, Hertford Castle, Church Street, Bluecoats, Priory Street &emdash; and in fact many, many other places. It reaches beneath well-known central Hertford locations, including the tourist office, the Castle, Monsoon, Threshers, the post office, Bayley Hall, and the council offices, both within the Castle and in County Hall. One of these passages once connected Shire Hall, now home to Hertford Magistrates Court, to the Salisbury Arms in Fore Street. Mercury photographer Mike Poultney was there the day it was sealed 25 years ago. Tims twin brother Ben said: The Fore Street section once extended to a substantial section beneath Bluecoats School, which is still accessible from certain buildings.
The Bluecoats section has many secret side-chambers and passages, one of which leads to chambers beneath the old pub the Dolphin, as well as a massive section beneath Priory Street. The Priory Street section was used by Templar mystics operating secretly among the Christians of the former long-gone Priory, which gave Priory Street its name. And Ben, who lives in Hertford, claims that two secret societies still meet in the tunnels. The ancient subterranean labyrinth beneath Hertford is quite extensive, although most of it must for now remain secret &emdash; and some chambers are still in use, he said. Much of the network was made by the Templars and secret societies linked to them. Some of this work took place long after the Order officially disbanded in 1307. Hertfords labyrinth could in fact provide the final proof that the Templars disappeared underground &emdash; both literally and metaphorically. With so many of the tunnels bricked up, it is hard to verify all the Achesons claims. But the Mercury, with the help of Hertford Museum, has uncovered an old map showing a tunnel running from Bailey Hall, which was said to run to what is now Lussmans restaurant in Fore Street, where another secret society met. We have also found blocked entrances to tunnels in Threshers in Fore Street and in the tourist office. Ben said: All the sections of the secret Templar labyrinth were once linked. Here are the parts that I can tell you about. Fore Street was once the hub of the only part of the network that you know about. No 42 Fore Street was once linked to numerous chambers beneath Fore Street. It is still linked, via a passage recently blocked by the previous owners of 42 Fore Street, reaching to Bailey Hall and beyond. This section also branches out to the Old Vicarage, where the Templar-founded Theosophical Society co-founded a cell of another secret society, the Knights Templar of Aquarius, via a local mystic and medium whose ancestors once owned Bailey Hall as well. According to Ben, the chambers host meetings not only of the Templars, but of the Illuminati &emdash; a shadowy and powerful group said to be bent on world domination and boasting President George W Bush among its members. A recent Sky TV documentary suggested that members of the dark sect live in the town. Some remain in use by the Templars and the Illuminati, said Ben. In places you can see where passages led from some of the still-accessible parts of the labyrinth, linking all of the above sections together and leading to several still secret tunnels and chambers. We cannot yet reveal details of these. There are also long-forgotten sections beneath other parts of Hertford, as well as in Royston and Temple Farm, near Bengeo. He said there are also branches beneath Church Street leading to chambers around the dungeons and vaults of Hertford Castle &emdash; one leads all the way to County Hall. Sections of it are now blocked and partially occupied by a Cold War nuclear bunker under what is now Elbert Wurlings bar and restaurant. These once led to sections beneath and around the crypt of All Saints Church, as well as St Andrew Street and beyond, added Ben. Margaret Harris, of Hertford Museum, said: I only know for sure about the Bailey Hall tunnel, which I believe was used by the judges when it was a law court so that they could get to All Saints Church nearby. Thats all I know and Im quite sceptical about this until I can see more proof. But they are supposed to be secret. A brief history of the Knights Templar The Templars were an international military order who formed during the crusades in 1118 and grew in power and wealth until their downfall in 1307, when King Philip arrested all the Templars in France. Many escaped to England and some settled in Hertford. Said to be the power behind many of medieval Europes thrones, they created the first ever banking system. Clients could take a note to any Templar church in Europe and withdraw money. Arguably no less important, the knights also invented the biscuit during the crusades. They would make a large flat bread and bake it twice, to prevent it from becoming mouldy. Some believe that the association of Friday 13th and bad luck dates from when the Pope rounded up all the Templars and accused them of heresy, putting many to torture on that day in October 1312. The Templars are today a registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) with Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. Local Templars still meet at Shire Hall in Hertford.
Labyrinth points to Knight moves and the Holy Grail
THE labyrinth of booby-trapped tunnels beneath the streets of the county town may hold clues in the hunt for the Holy Grail, according to Hertford members of a secret society. The warren was used by the Knights Templar, a society of warrior monks believed to be the keepers of the Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. At the heart of the maze of tunnels is Hertford Castle. It was there, in 1309, that four of six Templars from Bengeo were imprisoned following their arrest by King Edward II, who believed they were holding a lost treasure. Ben Acheson, a modern-day Templar, said: There are treasures of immense importance underneath Hertford. The people of Hertford should now be told something of the labyrinth beneath them. They have an extensive, ancient and mostly secret Templar heritage under their feet and it has been there for hundreds of years. It is time for Hertford to begin to wake up to the shocking truth. The labyrinth is important in unravelling the mysteries of the Templars and the Grail. Interest in the legendary cup of Jesus, said to have been used at the Last Supper and by Joseph of Aramithea to catch Christs blood while he hung on the cross, has been renewed by Dan Browns best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.
Some believe the grail proves that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and bore his children, and that their dynasty carries on today. As the Mercury reported last month, Hertford has been put on the grail trail due to its historic links with the Knights Templar, who were believed to own a legendary lost treasure. It was following a royal order in 1309 that six Templars based at Temple Dinsley near Hitchin were arrested. Two were sent to the Tower of London and the remaining four to Hertford Castle. According to earlier records, dating from 1216, Temple Dinsley was a small and poor foundation, but King Edward II believed the Templars had a massive hoard of gold, silver and precious jewels in a casket, said to be buried nearby. The lost treasure, which some believe to be the grail, has never been recovered. Mr Acheson said cryptically: There are some things which we are able to reveal and some things which we are not. This is particularly true in relation to the labyrinth. Most of it must remain secret. For security reasons, the Mercury cannot reveal the locations of all the tunnels as some connect to bank vaults in the town. According to Mr Acheson, some may even be booby-trapped, as in the Indiana Jones movies. He said: Some of the passages and chambers are highly secret and a few are still in use. Some parts may also have been rigged to collapse. If you do stumble upon any hidden entrances, passages or chambers please do steer well clear, if only for your own safety. A cryptic clue was left at Hertfords tourist office this month with a picture of a chalice accompanied by a note, which read: You may wish to display this to your customers. The reason why will become clear in due course. If it has not already. It was signed The Order.
Taken from an 1898 map advertising the sale of Bayley Hall, a 'Subterranean passage' is clearly marked within the grounds. Also visible are Bell Lane, leading north from Bayley Hall, Church Street, leading north from the top right of the picture, land to the South of Bailey Hall, which is now the A414, and the Old Vicarage, now a private residence(s).
. KNIGHT OF PASSION: Templar Ben Acheson says the labyrinth of tunnels underneath Hertford is important in unravelling the secrets of the Templars and the Holy Grail. Templar faces East holding large sword in ritual grip outside a building at night. Sword held against chest like metallic cross, blade points downward, butt by chin, point by shins. White gloved hands hold sword either side of hand-guard forming the horizontal bar of the cross; left-hand holds handle, right-hand holds blade.]
Tunnels under Threshers off license, left, and Pizza Express, right, both in Fore Street, lend weight to the idea that Hertford has a true labyrinth of tunnels beneath the surface. SOURCE: Hertfordshire Mercury, "The secrets of underground Hertford", pp 16-17, 8 October 2004.
Legends - England - Beds, Herts and Bucks - The secrets of underground Hertford
The Order of the Knights Templar was founded by a French Nobleman, Hugh de Payens and eight companion knights in Jerusalem in 1118 or 1119 AD as official protectors to pilgrims as they journeyed to Jerusalem. And, whilst this principle of protection was laudable, historic chronicles have proved pitiless to their memory. In 1308, the disbandment of the Templars was demanded by the King of France, Philip the Fair, and a significant part of the demise of the English Knights Templar in the 13th Century, took place in Hertfordshire under the orders of King Edward II.
There are no remains of the Templars Preceptory above ground, but chance finds have been made, including skeletons, a chalice, and the grave slab pictured here. These were found during works to the east wing of the house, which seems to have been the location of the Templar chapel, at some point in the 1880s.
A parchment written in a Latin code, derived from the eight-pointed Templar Cross, exists in the Mark Masons Hall Library in St Jamess, London. It surfaced at a bric-a-brac sale in London in about 1911. It claims to list the Grand Masters through the next five centuries. But none of the Templar legends are yet to pass the tests of rigorous scientific and academic proof. But, what we know of the truth is fascinating enough in itself.
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46 hectares of vast land is part of the Knoppenburg Manor estate, enclosed by hedges and rows of trees. Nearby are two natural ponds enclosed by a natural population of trees.
The Manor building is approached via a splendid avenue. The estate consists of three building sections, arranged in a U-form. The main building stands in the centre, built in a classical style.
Knoppenburg - simply as a safe retreat for a family with a distinctive need for a large area of free space and nature. Residents in Belgium and neighboring Germany enjoy some of the lowest crime rates in Europe and have remained free from the threat of terrorist attacks. Liberal immigration policies and an open-minded culture compared to other countries makes Belgium particularly attractive for new-comers.
Horse enthusiasts can take advantage of the Manor's stables and agricultural land. A riding hall granted with building approval poses the opportunity to provide a further character to the property. Knoppenburg is a medieval manor
The location of Knoppenburg and the total estate size allow even the thought of owning a private hunting ground.
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Commercial investors can utilize Knoppenburg in different ways. The close touch with nature plus an excellent traffic connection is more than a perfect location for a hotel and conference centre. An elevated living ambiance in exercise-friendly surroundings form the ideal location for a senior residence.
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Knoppenburg Manor is a feudal manor and had a historical mention already in the 16th century under its original name "Hop op der Heyde" which means Court on the Heath. It has arisen from the restructuring of the old and significant Manor Belven from which it presumably split-off in the 16th century.
"Hop op der Heyde"
In 1612 Simon Bertholf bequeathed Knoppenburg to Guillaume de Fischer as a gift. The family Fischer extended the building to include two side wings and two towers. The owners changed once more at the beginning of the 18th century and the estate belonged to the family Lamberts after 1717.
In the course of the Century Pierre-Ignace-Joseph de la Saulx, President of the District Court, Malmedy and later advisor at the Cologne Higher Regional Court acquired the estate through inheritance. The coats of arms of the family de la Saulx decorate the weathercocks on the towers of Knoppenburg Manor to this very day.
The main building made its debut in the classical style at the beginning of the 19th century, as can be seen today. Through marriage and inheritance, in the course of time the Manor became the property of the family de Blanchart.
In 1936 Joseph-Henri Guillaume van Laar purchased the estate. After the last change of ownership in 1998, extensive restoration and remedial work began.
Today, Kloppenburg Manor lies on the historical "Castle Trail" &endash; a fascinating route that links 20 palaces, castles and stately homes along 79km of the Belgian countryside
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