St John Historical Society


The St John Historical Society was founded in 1981 to study the history of the Order of St John and related topics. There are no formal qualifications for membership other than an interest in the subject.

The Society holds monthly meetings, usually at St John’s Gate however, excursions to sites of interest are often  arranged for the summer months.  Annual Proceedings are published by the Society, so that members who are unable to attend meetings in London may have the information given in the lectures. A news-sheet of general interest is circulated to members several times each year.

Guests are welcome to attend their first lecture on a drop-in basis. Subsequently, we invite you to become a member of the Society.

Current subscriptions per annum

Single £12, double at the same address £18
If joining after June, pay half annual rate.


Membership forms can be obtained at St John’s Gate or download our application for membership form.

Download application for membership form (35KB – PDF)

2018 Programme

Download (PDF)


Wednesday 14th February, 6.30pm

The Railway Ambulance Movement

Alan Sharkey

This talk is a must for any self respecting railway buff!  It will examine the role that the St John Ambulance Association had in the progress and impact of the railway ambulance movement, its competitions and looks at its medals, insignia and certificates from 1878 onwards.


Wednesday 14th March, 7.00pm

Israel/Palestine: History is still undecided

Afif Safieh

The talk will provide the historical background of the conflict in this region, where The Order still runs a Hospital in Jerusalem.  It will cover the peace process, from breakthrough to breakdown.  Afif Safieh has spoken in many venues, including The Vatican, and this promises to be a stimulating and informative talk.


Thursday 12th April 2018, 6.30pm

A Grand Master in Miniature:  the Portrait Bust of Jean de la Valette in the Museum of the Order of Saint John

Jeremy Warren

An authoritative account of one of the Museum’s treasures, this talk will discuss the finest known portrait of this major historical figure.  The bust is of great significance for all those with an interest in the history of The Order, as well as being an exceptional sculpture in its own right.  It will no doubt include more than one reference to the Great Siege of 1565! Not to be missed.


Wednesday 9th May 2018 at 6pm

WALKING TOUR: “Until We Beat the Mortal Foe” ‐ Paddington in the First World

David Evans

Starting at Bayswater underground station, David’s learning walks are renowned for their content and participants saying aloud or quietly to themselves  “Well, I never knew that..”. You will enjoy it! Highly recommended.


Saturday 16th June at 2pm

WALKING TOUR: The Assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval

Lester Hillman

Starting at Angel, and finishing near St John’s Gate, this tour will last approximately 90 minutes.  Lester is a truly entertaining guide, but you will need to keep your wits sharp for his unique take on the topic at hand. Just look at the title!




Friday 14th September

Summer Garden Party  

All Members of the Society are welcome to attend.



Wednesday 11th October at 6.00pm

The Arms of the Order – the history and collections of arms and armour belonging to the Knights of St John 

Dickon Whitewood

The Knights of St John have a long history of ordering, using and collecting arms and armour. These objects, now held at museums such as the Palace Armoury in Valetta and Museum of the Order of St John, form one of the richest collections in the world. This talk examines the Order’s use of arms and armour and the history of these wonderful collections. There will be a rare chance to see some armour first hand!


Wednesday 14th November at 7.00pm

The Life Saving Awards of the Order of St John

John Wilson and Roger Willoughby

A short history of the evolution of this award, John and Roger will comment on the social context of their issuance from inception to date. Examples of major incidents and inspiring acts of great bravery, for which the Order of St. John gave these awards, will be covered in fascinating detail.



The Museum of the Order of St John would like to thank all those who have supported and continue to support its work. In particular, the Museum would like to thank the following for their generosity: