The Story Behind the Cover Photo

The Secret Dossier of a Knight Templar of the Sangreal

Recently I was asked who designed the cover of the book and where did the photo of the stained glass window originate?

I’m so pleased that many have commented that the cover is striking and that the image of the Templar Knight is inspiring & compelling.  I designed the cover and was happy that so many commented positively on it.  I hope my next effort is of equal quality.

I visited Saint Mary’s Church in Temple Balsall in Solihull England, a few years ago hoping to find the vibrant presence of the Templars still aflame.

I have visited many Templar locations in the UK with the prayer that inspiration and discovery will lead me to a higher understanding of who they were during the public historic days of the middle ages.  I was not disappointed on this journey to Warwickshire England.

St Mary’s sits within a small grouping of historic buildings which are an ode to the best that is the human heart.  There is even a visitor’s car park just in case you plan a trip.


A graceful country manor is across from the ancient Old Hall where the Templar’s would have held their business activities and also dined.


Lady Katherine Leveson willed that a school and alms-houses were to be established in 1674.  The Leveson Foundation still functions today and is a beautiful oasis amidst the green countryside.  I highly recommend that you read more about Lady Katherine’s efforts –

I’m a fan, you will be too:

Lady Katherine Leveson

A helpful map of the area

Balsall Preceptory as it was technically known by the Templars, were given the property by Roger de Mowbray in 1185.

Saint Mary’s Church in Temple Balsall, Solihull England

He was described by Horace Round as ‘a great lord with a hundred knight’s fees, was captured with King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln (1141), joined the rebellion against Henry II (1173), founded abbeys, and went on crusade’ 1.

Roger de Mowbray fought with the Templars and also founded the Cistercian Abbey of Fountains in Yorkshire.  He participated in three crusades and was finally captured by the Turks at the age of sixty-five.  Though the Templars ransomed him, he unfortunately died soon after rescue, perhaps due to stress or an injury sustained during his capture.

The Old Hall was officially given to the Hospitallers after 1314 as all properties were meant to pass to their rival St Johns, but it would take many years of legal battles before they were allowed to actually move in and start redecorating.  Prior owners of the gifted Templar lands fought to get them back in order to prevent the Hospitallers from gaining ground in the UK.

Eight knights were arrested from Balsall Preceptory; one had been killed during the arrests. 2.  I’ve covered the escape of the Knights Templar on October 13th 1307 extensively in The Secret Dossier of a Knight Templar of the Sangreal, in chapters 18 & 19.

Saint Mary’s was built by the Templar’s but was heavily restored by the very busy Victorians, specifically, Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1849.

I can’t verify it at the moment but I believe that the stained glass window was painted by Edward Burne-Jones.  He created the Birmingham Cathedral windows and at least 11 churches in Cumbria through the William Morris Company.  3. The ‘Firm’ which was slang for the W.M. Company promoted many Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painters.  Certainly, if I am incorrect on Burne-Jones, another member created the gorgeous east window of St. Mary’s Temple Balsall.

Reconciliation – the altar window with the Knight Templar and that of St. John’s – photo by Gretchen L. Cornwall 2010

I appreciated the tone of reconciliation that the whole altar window implies.  On the left hand side is the Templar and on the right hand side facing his opposite number, is that of a knight of St. John’s.

I was stunned when I first ‘outed’ the image of the Templar Knight on Facebook; the comments back from my female friends were that the knight looked like a woman!  They immediately started to refer to the image as ‘she’.  Had the wise painter sought to create an androgynous visage displaying the nature of the human soul?

At the time I took the photos of the east window, I had not realised that the Templar Knight would become my cover image.  I started to cast about for an artist only within the final months of the ebook release in September 2015. When I realised I had an image already from the master hand of a Pre-Raphaelite artist from the William Morris Co.

Black Madonna Icon, photo by Gretchen L. Cornwall 201

I also found it of great interest that in the altar corner stood a modern cast iron tree holding the prayers in tea-lights.  Next to this impressive sculpture was an icon of a Black Madonna, also of recent years.  Both protected by a low barrier.  The Templar’s have a history with the Black Madonna which I’ve also included in my first book.

The graveyard of the church is filled with small headstones that bear the cross patee’ of the Templars.


On an odd synchronistic moment, I took this photo of a small truck driving slowly through the village.  I knew I was in the right place!

The parish church is in use today by modern Templars Photo Credit


I hope you have a chance to visit Saint Mary’s and find it as atmospheric, graceful and filled with kindness as I had.

For more information on the church, visit: The Leveson Foundation site

  2. Harold Brakspear, F.S.A, Royal Archaeological Institute, July 1926

2 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Cover Photo

  1. What a wonderful article. I love it. | Gretchen Cornwall posted: “Recently I was asked who designed the cover of the book and where did the photo of the stained glass window originate?I’m so pleased that many have commented that the cover is striking and that the image of the Templar Knight is inspiring & compel” | |

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