A busy life has meant not much blogging of late, however last Wednesday afternoon I had the opportunity to visit the Priory Church of St John in Clerkenwell, London. This church is part of the Museum of The Order of St John in conjunction with St John’s Gate which is located on the other side of Clerkenwell Road.
St John’s Gate, the entrance to the former Priory of the Knights of St John, which dates from 1504, whilst the church is older. Its Crypt dates back to the twelfth century.
The original gate dates back to twelfth century, however it was burnt down by Wat Tyler in 1831. Prior Redington led the restortion, with Prior Docwra in charge of the restoration completed in 1504. However The Order did not remain in charge of the gate for very long, when The Crown took it over in 1559. The Order of St John regained the gate in 1873.
The Order of St John first set up a Priory in Clerkenwell in the 1140s as an English headquarters. However Henry VIII seized the property of The Order, and although Queen Mary restored The Order and granted a Royal Charter, Queen Elizabeth disolved The Order permanently.
Queen Victoria granted the modern Order of St John a Royal Charter in 1888. This modern order recognised the need for ambulance services and First Aid in the industrialised UK. Recall the roots of The Order, an Eye Hospital was established in Jerusalem.
The garden of the Priory Church are very peaceful, with the bustle of the City of London not far away. This was constructed as part of restoration work that took place at the beginning of the 20th century. The interior of the church and crypt and also peaceful areas.
The museum and church are well worth a visit if you are in the City of London, and are only a short walk from Farringdon station on the Metropolitan, Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines of London Underground, and on the Thameslink route between Bedford and Brighton, one stop south of St Pancras.
Although known as St John’s or The Order of St John, the official title is The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem.