Visit, May 2014
Museum of the Order of St John
15 members and guests visited the Museum on a nondescript spring day in May when we met in the entrance hall where our guide John Morgan set the scene for the tour.
The Museum of the Order of St John tells the story of the venerable Order of St John from its roots as a Pan European Order of Hospitaller Knights founded in Jerusalem during the Crusades to its present commitment of providing first aid care to the community [St John Ambulance} and running an ophthalmic hospital in Jerusalem.
It is the oldest order of Christian Chivalry which was forced to leave Palestine. The Knights then went to Cyprus in 1291, Rhodes in 1309 and Malta in 1530 before being expelled by Napoleon in 1798. They then established their existing headquarters in Rome
The Museum is based in St Johnís Gate, a 16th Century Gatehouse in Clerkenwell with roots in the 11th Century, which was the headquarters of the British Order of St John and formed the entrance to the ancient priory.
We visited the oldest surviving part of the medieval church Ė the 12th Century Norman Crypt as well as the 16th Century Church above and then the Gatehouse. This structure was put to many uses after the Dissolution of the Monasteries before being bought back by the Order in the late 19th Century. It is now decorated with heraldry, stained glass, gildings and carvings.
Our tour also included the Grand Chapter Hall, the Link Gallery and the Council Chamber.
David Mayne thanked John Morgan for his detailed and comprehensive commentary during the tour and President Ross Silver thanked David Mayne for having organised the very enjoyable outing.
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