The site of the Priory of the Order of St John has a rich and varied history. It was builtin 1144 in Clerkenwell and established as the headquarters of the Order in England. It was a vast and prosperous community which enjoyed close relationships with kings and queens throughout the middle ages until, in 1540, Henry VIII dissolved all monasteries across the nation and the Priory of the Order of St John was seized and closed down.
Across the years that followed, the buildings of the Museum of the Order of St John became at thriving part of London life. They provided offices for the Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth I, and thirty of Shakespeare’s plays were licensed here. From a coffee shop to a pub and magazine printing house in between, St John’s Gate has been a meeting place for creative minds for centuries, with visitors including William Hogarth, Dr Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens.
The modern Order of St John in England was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1888. Humanitarian in its aims and purpose, the modern Order introduced public first aid and ambulance transport services to a newly industrialised England. Today, St John Ambulance works in the heart of communities to preserve and protect life through volunteering for health and first aid.
For over 100 years the Museum has welcomed visitors and today our learning programme continues to inspire school groups through exploration of this unique site and hands-one ngagement with our collection of over 60,000 objects. We offer dynamic workshops for key stages 1-4 which support and enhance students’ skills development across subjects including History, English, Citizenship, Maths and Science.