Did the Templars Hide the Ark of the Covenant? Unraveling the Cove-Jones Cipher

Did the Templars Hide the Ark of the Covenant? Unraveling the Cove-Jones Cipher


On October 25th this year, the Vatican released a document that had remained in its secret archives for seven hundred years. It is the report of the official Church investigation into the activities of the Knights Templar in the early fourteenth century. In October 1306, these crusader knights were found guilty of idolatry, blasphemy, and heresy, and their order was dissolved. Some were burned at the stake, others imprisoned, and most were stripped of their assets. Astonishingly, this extraordinary document reveals how the Vatican enquiry found no evidence of wrongdoing. It was the Pope himself, Clement V, who directly intervened and declared the Templars heretics. The report appears to show that the pontiff was after their wealth, said to include priceless treasures once housed in the temple of Jerusalem and lost when the city was sacked in ancient times.

But despite the arrest and torture of leading Templars, and the wholesale seizure of their lands, nothing of this fabled hoard was ever found. Most historians doubt the existence of the Templar treasure. However, my research suggests that one of the ancient relics they are said to have possessed may have been hidden in central Britain.

Hallowed Relics

In the heart of England, close to Stratford-upon-Avon, famous as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, is the village of Temple Herdewyke, named after the Templars who once resided there. After the Third Crusade in the late twelfth century, these Templars returned from the Holy Land to build a chapel to house certain holy relics they claimed to have found. Many crusaders came home with items purportedly associated with early Judaism and Christianity, and with characters and events in the Bible, but the Temple Herdewyke knights are said to have discovered the most famous biblical artifact of all: the Ark of the Covenant. At least, according to local legend!

Composite image of members of the Knights Templar

Composite image of members of the Knights Templar ( Public Domain ) and a treasure pile. ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

They certainly claimed to have found what appear to have been considered hallowed relics at the time. Contemporary records of land and property holdings reveal that in 1192 the chapel housed certain objets sacrés – “sacred objects” – which the Templars had acquired in the Holy Land, including a large golden chest. This is exactly what the Ark of the Covenant was said to be.

According to the Old Testament, it was a large golden box, made to contain the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, lost when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 587 BC.

Secret Messages

Although the Templars were rounded up in 1306, some evaded capture. Six hundred years later, a British historian suggested that they managed to survive in secret at Temple Herdewyke until 1350, when they were wiped out by the Black Death.

The Templar’s chapel at Temple Herdewyke, now converted into a house, with the Phoenix Beacon on the hill behind.

The Templar’s chapel at Temple Herdewyke, now converted into a house, with the Phoenix Beacon on the hill behind. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

Jacob Cove-Jones, who lived in the area, not only believed they possessed the lost Ark, he also claimed to have discovered its secret hiding place. Having fallen out with fellow scholars for ridiculing his work, Cove-Jones refused to reveal his findings.

Jacob Cove-Jones

Jacob Cove-Jones (Public Domain)

He intended to carry out an excavation of his own, but sadly it never transpired. In 1906 he contracted tuberculosis and decided to take his secret to the grave. Well, almost! Knowing he had only a short time to live, the eccentric historian left behind a bizarre epitaph. He designed a stained-glass window that he commissioned to be made and installed in a new church that was being built close to his home in the village of Langley. Astonishingly, on his deathbed he announced that the window contained a series of clues to lead to where he was sure the Ark was hidden.

Most dismissed him as a crank, while others who attempted to crack the code gave up without success. I personally remain to be convinced that this Victorian scholar really did know where the Ark was hidden or, for that matter, whether the Templars ever discovered the Ark at all. Nevertheless, Jacob Cove-Jones certainly seems to have believed it, and went to a great deal of trouble to leave his cryptic message. It was, I decided, likely that the window did hold clues to lead to something; if that was actually the lost Ark remains to be seen. It was certainly worth investigating this century-old Edwardian mystery.

Clues in the Epiphany Window

Completed in 1906, the year Cove Jones’s died, Langley chapel is one of the smallest churches in England, and the window in question is set into a side wall. Called the Epiphany Window, it depicts the three Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus on Epiphany, the twelfth night of Christmas between January 5 and 6.  Matthew’s Gospel relates how three mystics from the East followed a miraculous star that led them to Bethlehem where Christ was born. According to Christian tradition, the Wise Men ultimately found Jesus when a rooster uncharacteristically crowed at midnight on top of the building where the child slept. The window scene shows the Wise Men holding their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, praising the baby held in his mother’s arms, while above them is the crowing rooster and the wondrous star.

The Epiphany Window.

The Epiphany Window. (Photography ©by Graham Phillips)

Strangely, the stained-glass window did not depict the Ark. Why the Nativity, I wondered? The Wise Men were said to have found the baby Jesus by following a star. Might a star be Jacob Cove-Jones’s vital clue? Was the seeker being told to follow a star?

The Ark of the Covenant is indeed associated with stars: two of them, to be precise. The Bible describes the Ark as having figurines of two angels on its lid. They were said to depict the archangels Michael and Gabriel that, according to Hebrew tradition, were represented in the sky by the stars Benetnash and Mizar, the tail stars of what we now called the Big Dipper.

The stained-glass window did in fact appear to show two stars, one overlaid on the other, and right next to this design were the letters B and M, the very initials of these stars. If these celestial bodies were to somehow indicate the location of the hidden Ark, I needed to know both when and from where to observe them.

Close up of the Epiphany Window, showing the double star, the rooster, the phoenix, and the letters B and M. The red-brick arch can be seen directly below the star.

Close up of the Epiphany Window, showing the double star, the rooster, the phoenix, and the letters B and M. The red-brick arch can be seen directly below the star. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

Does the Pheonix Point the Way?

The specific day, I decided, was revealed by the event portrayed in the window: Epiphany, on the twelfth night of Christmas. And the precise time was revealed by the rooster next to the star. It is said to have crowed at midnight. The location, it seemed, was indicated by two pertinent images in the scene. Between the letters B and M was depicted the fire bird, the phoenix, rising from the flames, and on top of a hill overlooking Temple Herdewyke there is a peculiar round tower called the Phoenix Beacon.

The central image in the Epiphany Window and the Phoenix Beacon it appears to represent.

The central image in the Epiphany Window and the Phoenix Beacon it appears to represent. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

In fact, the central image in the stained-glass window bears a striking resemblance to the tower, with its distinctive conical roof and castellated walls. It is represented as a container held by one of the figures, and upon it was another depiction of the phoenix, and the Latin words, “come and adore.” I was certain that Cove-Jones intended his seeker to observe the stars at 12 p.m. on Epiphany night, from the position of the tower. At that exact time, the two stars are low in the sky and, when viewed from the Phoenix Beacon, are pointing almost directly downwards to the foot of a hill on the horizon, specifically to a little village called Chapel Green.

The Phoenix Beacon, showing the position of the Big Dipper at midnight on January 5, with the two tail stars, Benetnash and Mizar, pointing downwards.

The Phoenix Beacon, showing the position of the Big Dipper at midnight on January 5, with the two tail stars, Benetnash and Mizar, pointing downwards . (Photography © by Graham Phillips)


Chapel Green is named after a medieval chapel that once stood there, but all that remains today is a Victorian drinking fountain standing beside the road. Dating from Cove-Jones’s time, it is a red-brick, rectangular structure, inlaid with an arched niche. It closely resembles a red-brick arch depicted in the window scene, right below the star design.

The drinking fountain at Chapel Green.

The drinking fountain at Chapel Green. (Photography © by Graham Phillips)

Convinced that that this was exactly where the clues in the Epiphany Window were intended to lead, I organized a geophysics survey of the area, but although we discovered evidence of the original chapel, nothing made of gold or resembling the Ark appeared to be there. Tragically, in 1949 the lane was widened and the ruins of the centuries-old chapel were destroyed. Perhaps the workmen involved had dug up whatever was there to be found. If it was the lost Ark, they kept it quiet.

At present, I am trying to discover who the workmen were, so I can trace their living relatives. Maybe – just maybe – someone in central England still knows the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant. The vessel famously described by Indiana Jones as “a radio for talking to God.”

A fuller account of this investigation can be found on Graham Phillips’ website:

And in his book The Templars and the Ark of the Covenant .


Top Image: The Ark of the Covenant, as described in the Bible. (Picture from the cover of The Templars and the Ark of the Covenant by Graham Phillips, published by Inner Traditions • Bear & Company )

By Graham Phillips


David Willey, 2007. “Vatican archive yields Templar secrets” [Online] Available at:

David Van Biema, 2007. “The Vatican and the Knights Templar” [Online] Available at:,8599,1674980,00.html

Peter Popham, 2007. “How the Vatican destroyed the Knights Templar” [Online] Available at:

Malcolm Moore, 2007. “Vatican paper set to clear Knights Templar” [Online] Available at:


Timothy Hogan is a Grandmaster of a dozen or more branches of Freemasonry and other brotherhoods descending from the Knights Templar. According to him its all about spirituality and the 'God-experience'. There are no material Arks of the Covenant or Holy Grails.
See his very interesting and enlightening youtube video: 'Esoteric Templar History' for example.

I've been persuaded by the logic of author Ralph Ellis that the Hebrews were among the Hyksos, who oppressed the Egyptians from about 1600 BCE. After imposing themselves on lower Egypt for over 150 years, the Hyksos were finally expelled. The nationalistic fervor of some Hebrews in exile in Babylon several hundred years later, led them to create a mythos of Hebrew history in Egypt which portrayed them as sympathetic heroic victims aided by their God, who favored them to the exclusion of everyone else.

Ralph suggests that the topography of Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible refers really to Avaris, in the Nile delta, and that the Mt. Sinai of the Bible was actually the Great Pyramid. He has extensive research and compelling insights that inform. Suggest you check out his books.

The writer got his bit about Templar Grandmaster DeMolay from Knight and Lomas' The Hiram Key, which I think is an excellent read, too. BTW, I do believe the Templars' persecution began in 1307.

Like everyone else I like a good mystery but the fact that there are tons of artifacts at the bottom of the red sea is no surprise, we're talking about thousand years of history here. It constitutes no evidence at all for the bible fairy tales. Not a shred of evidence was ever found of hebrew presence in egypt anyways, it's a myth only kids believe. Even the current jerusalem doesn't match the description of the old testament, it's a load of bs.
Templars were incredible builders that's for sure, they left tangible evidence of that. The rest is just speculation.

The discovery of chariots on the bottom of the red sea by archeaoligist ron wyatt revealed several Gold chariot wheels,spears, javelins, and Other artifacts as scuba divers swam between the 8 mile stretch of the crossing points when pharoa pursued moses and the tribe of Israel as Jehovah brought down the mighty waters down upon the entire Egyptian Army ,washing them to thier doom !!! This discovery is documented on video to be reviewed by the public on *** YouTube - ron wyatt _ pharoas chariots . I suggest you go view the documentary an see for yourself !!! I also advise Ancient Origins to attempt to send research scientist to this location to further document this enormous archeaological treasure ,as opportunity is at hand!!!

The Ark too dangerous in the hands of the Templars?  Mind you the author of this article didn’t read the memo.  In 1128/29 the original 9 (who were already at least 10 by then when the  Count of Champagne having ditched his wife and all his property to joined them in 1126/7) allegedly brought back the Ark on their return to France.  On the way back two of those knights went to Rome for a secret meating with the Pope while the others went to Troyes (where the Templars were officially created.  Legends surrounding the creation of the Order tell the group brought back the Ark and had it send to no one knows exactly.  Some say she in Provence, others say it in the Chartres Cathedral.  So if Templars had the Ark for all those years, why would it be so dangerous for them to have it now?  Just curious

Si vis pacem, para bellum


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