St John Historical Society

ALT=""The St John Historical Society holds monthly meetings usually at St John’s Gate.  Annual Proceedings are published, so that members who are unable to attend meetings 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)

2019 Programme

Thursday 7th February 2019 at 7.00pm

Geology and Medicine: the Maltese connection

Dr. Chris Duffin

In addition to herbal and zoological materials, apothecaries and medics employed a wide range of geological materials from classical times to the mid-eighteenth century.  This lecture will focus on geological ingredients collected and exported from Malta, and will consider how a well-stocked geological collection was deemed useful against all sorts of infections, parasites, poisons and diseases.


Wednesday 6th March at 7.00pm

Sovereigns of St John’s Anglican Order of Chivalry since 1888, and Their Service to Imperial First Aid

Alastair Bruce of Crionaich

Alastair is the Royal, Religious and National Events Commentator for Sky News. He serves as a Royal Herald at the College of Arms and has held the position of Fitzalan Pursuivant since 1998. Alastair explores the important role of the royals in the modern Order.


Thursday 4th April at 7.00pm

A brief history of the St John Ambulance Brigade in Ireland from 1880-1955

Pádraig Allen

Pádraig is Archives Manager of St John Ambulance National Headquarters in Dublin. His talk will cover a period from the formation of the Brigade at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, through to the visit of King George V in 1911 and the Irish contribution to WWI (including the Hospital at Étaples), the turbulent period of the Easter Rising through to the visit of Edwina Mountbatten, and the St John Ambulance Brigade of Ireland Jubilee in 1954.


Thursday 23rd May at 7.00pm

Working with the St John Ambulance Air Wing 1972 – 1992

Heather Lawrence and Alan Cook

This will be an account of the direct experience of two members from the same family who gave service as Volunteers to an aspect of the Order’s history which tends to be overlooked. The St John Ambulance Air Wing was responsible for the transportation of human organs for transplant surgery. This was a pioneering initiative that contributed to saving many lives. Learn about this aspect of our history from the people who were directly involved.


Saturday 15th June at 2.00pm

WALKING TOUR:  Roses round the Door!

Lester Hillman

Meet at the West entrance of St Paul’s Cathedral. Finish in the vicinity of the Priory of St John. We are fast approaching the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Barnet. In 1471 the Priory and Order were at the heart of the transformative events of the ‘War of the Roses’. The Walk will explore critical moments in the march to battle and the significance of the Priory at Clerkenwell.




Thursday 19th September at 7.00pm

A trip to the coast: interwar first aid on the roads and the beach

Professor Barry Doyle (University of Huddersfield) and Dr. Rosemary Cresswell (University of Hull)

St John Ambulance established first aid huts and posts on the roads and at the seaside, and the counties south of London were particularly busy areas for accidents. This presentation will explore the role of first aiders in the period before the NHS, and will bring some of the skills they performed to life with re-enactments. (Rosemary and Barry have been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for their research on the history of first aid in Britain and France between 1909 and 1989).



Wednesday 16th October  at 7.00pm

The Hospitallers in Medieval Britain: champions, churches and charity

Professor Helen Nicholson (University of Cardiff)

Professor Nicholson is an internationally renowned authority on the history of the Order.  Helen will focus on two particular sources: the report produced by Grand Prior Philip de Thame on papal instructions in 1338 and sent to Grand Master Hélion de Villeneuve on Rhodes, and Brother John Stillingflete’s list of properties and patrons from 1434. The talk will be about what these records tell us about the Hospitallers’ relations with their patrons and their spiritual and charitable contribution to medieval society.



Thursday 14th November at 7.00pm

The Knights Hospitaller in the British Isles from the 12th century to 1540

Michael Hodges (Chancellor of the British Association of SMOM)

Michael is the author of The Knights Hospitaller in Great Britain in 1540. He will talk about the survey of the Houses and Churches of the Order of St  John of Jerusalem, including those earlier belonging to the Knights Templar.


The Society thanks all those participating speakers for their services and would encourage them where appropriate to consider having their talk published by the Society with the speaker’s agreement.

Meetings of the Society are held in the Chapter Hall at St John’s Gate unless otherwise specified.



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: