The Most Venerable Order Of The 
Hospital Of Saint John Of Jerusalem

THE ORDER

Queen Elizabeth II in the robes
of Sovereign Head of the Order

The Following text and Photos are Copyright the Order of Saint John and are reprinted here by kind permission for Historical information. For their website go here!

To the Headquarters of the Most Venerable Order of Saint John

The Order of Saint John has its origins in the time of the Crusades, when poor pilgrims to the Holy Land were given help and assistance by the Hospitaller Knights and, when sick, cared for by the Knights and Brothers of the Hospital of Saint John. Hence, from its foundation in the late eleventh century, the Order had been dedicated to helping the Sick and Poor.

The Order was soon established across Europe with Knights, Brothers and Sisters grouped into Priories, Bailiwicks and Commanderies. The earliest British Knights, members of the Grand Priory of England, established their headquarters in Clerkenwell, London, in 1144 and the world headquarters of the Most Venerable Order are still based adjacent to the ancient Priory buildings of Saint John's Gate. These buildings were acquired for the Order in 1874 by Sir Edward Lechmere, then the Order's Secretary-General.


Saint John's Gate, Clerkenwell 

The Protestant Reformation led to the confiscation of the Order's properties in Great Britain but the Catholic Priories continued to survive with their headquarters, the Grand Magistery, transferred from the island of Rhodes to that of Malta in 1530. The Knights of Malta continued to hold the island until it was captured by Napoleon in 1798, but they eventually established their headquarters in Rome, where the Grand Magistery of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (which has National Associations around the world) can still be found today. 

In the late 1820's a group of English and Scottish gentleman, encouraged by some French knights of Malta, established an ecumenical Priory of the Order in England. This attracted the attention of the British Royal Family in the 1870s and, in 1888, following a petition from the then Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria granted it a Royal Charter as an Order of the British Crown. Since then the Most Venerable Order of Saint John has continued as a Royal Order of Chivalry with the Monarch as Sovereign Head and a junior member of the Royal Family as Grand Prior. In addition to the Grand Priory, there are Priories of England, Scotland, Wales, Australia and Canada, for South Africa, in New Zealand and the United States, and Commanderies in Northern Ireland (of Ards), and Western Australia. 

The Great Officers of the Order 

The Grand Prior of the Order, nominated by the Queen as Sovereign Head, is His Royal Highness Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Ranking immediately below him is the Lord Prior, presently Lord Vestey. Since the reforms of the Order's Constitution in October 1999, the number and titles of the Great Officers have been revised. In addition to the Grand Prior and Lord Prior, these are now the Prelate: the Rt Rev John Waine (a Bishop of the Church of England); the Deputy Lord Priors: Lt-Col Eric Barry (Canada), and Prof Anthony Mellowes (England), and a Sub-Prior: John Strachan, Esq (New Zealand). The ordinary administration is carried out by the Secretary-General, presently Sir Christopher MacRae. See the Government of the Order and  Triennial appointments.

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Saint John Badge

Coming Soon!

THE NATURE OF THE ORDER

THE HOSPITALLER KNIGHTS IN BRITAIN BEFORE THE REFORMATION

ORIGINS OF THE MODERN ORDER IN BRITAIN

THE FOUNDATION OF THE MODERN ORDER

THE DECORATIONS OF THE ORDER

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