Come and see one of London's hidden gems!! Entry is FREE, but you can make a small donation for the upkeep of the museum.
This small hidden gem of a Museum is based in St. John's Gate, a 16th century gatehouse in London, England that once formed the entrance to the Priory of Clerkenwell. This dates back to the 11th century and was once the English headquarters of the Order of St. John. From here Hospitaller Knights went out to the Holy Land and later to Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta. They served in hospitals treating pilgrims,
PLEASE NOTE: We first meet at Farringdon Station, a short walk away from the museum.
The Origins of the Order of St. John
The Museum of the Order of St John tells the story of the Venerable Order of Saint John from its origins in eleventh century Jerusalem as a pan-European Order of Hospitaller Knights founded in Jerusalem, its connections and similarities with the Knights Templar movement of the same era, through to its modern day hospital role.
The Order of St. John and the ‘Maltese Cross’
The Knights of St. John moved their headquarters to Rhodes, from the Holy Land, and from there, to Malta. The eight-pointed cross, in the more familiar form we know today, was used by the Knights everywhere on their buildings and other possessions in Malta. Even after they left the island in 1798, the cross was still associated with the island, and today is often known as the Maltese Cross.
The eight pointed cross, which later known as the Maltese Cross, was worn on the black monastic habit of the Hospitaller Brothers as a symbol of Jesus’ crucifixion. The first cross was made of white material, and had long arms with slightly split ends. This was a common way of portraying the cross in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Hospitallers, a religious foundation that ran a Hospital in eleventh century Jerusalem, had grown from a foundation of merchants from Amalfi. On the eleventh century coins of Amalfi, there is a cross with split ends, but it is not known whether the Hospitallers later adapted their cross from that. Similar examples are to be seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, next door to the Hospital.
The Order of St. John in the Middle Ages in England.
While the English Priory and branch of the Order of St. John was dissolved in England by King Henry VIII in 1540, the other Priories throughout Europe remained strong. In was only in the eighteenth century, with the French Revolution and the invasion of the Knights headquarters on Malta by Napoleon, that the Order left the Mediterranean for good. The remaining members retreated to Rome, where they remain as direct descendants of the first Hospitaller Brothers in Jerusalem. They are known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
In the 1820s, a group of French Knights from the Order in Rome began recruiting new members of the Order in Britain, as part of an unsuccessful attempt to raise funds to restore the Order’s naval presence in the Mediterranean. However, the new Priory formed in Britain was not recognised by the Order in Rome, due to the fact that the new members recruited in England were a mix of both Anglican and Catholic. However, the new members in England felt that they were a part of Order, and established their own, new order, known as “The Order of St John of Jerusalem in England”.
It was only in the 1860s that the new order became more purposeful. Inspired by the original caring role of the first Hospitaller Brothers, they sought a humanitarian role. They acted as observers ain the Geneva Conferences that set up the Red Cross, and by 1877 had set up the St John Ambulance Association to train people in First Aid. In 1888, they set up the St John Ambulance Brigade as a uniformed volunteer organisation, treating people injured in industry and everyday life, and they established an Eye Hospital in Jerusalem.
This work was officially recognised by Queen Victoria in 1888, when she made the Order and official Royal Order of Chivalry, with the right to use the lions and unicorns, bearers of the Royal coat of arms, and the name “Venerable”.
The above picture is of a portrait of a Knight of St. John.
The Order of St. John and the Knight Templars.
The Knight Templars and the St. John Knight Hospitallers shared many characteristics, both being military religious orders. They worked together in some instances, but were two entirely separate orders.
In 1307, the Templars were arrested and charged with a list of crimes, They were completely disbanded in 1312, and their property was transferred to the Knights Hospitaller.
After the visit to the museum, if you wish you can join us for the next event - for just a drink and/or a Curry at the closeby (8 mins walk) Bengal Tiger Bar/Restarant.
Please note that there is a £2 nominal fee for this meetup for guests who do not hold the Ken's Events Membership Card.
Plan your journey
Plan your journey, with TFL's Journey Planner
Farringdon (Tube and Thameslink trains) is the nearest station, 5 minutes walk from the Museum.
Pay and display parking spaces are available in St John's Square.
(Parking restrictions and charges apply Mon — Fri 9.00am — 6.30pm, Sat 9.00am — 1.30pm, 2 hours maximum stay). There are also several NCP car parks within walking distance. Please see the NCP website for details.
By Bus: Farringdon Road (63), Clerkenwell Road (55, 243)
When you arrive at Farringdon Station look outside on Cowcross Street for the 'KEN'S EVENTS' Flag/Sign pictured below.
KEN'S EVENTS also has a Facebook page and Twitter account. See http://www.facebook.com/Kens.events
After our visit to the museum we can go for a curry (eating optional) and a drink at the Bengal Tiger Bar & Restaurant.