A Year in Pictures: 2018 at St John’s Gate

Museum of the Order of St John Isobel MacAuslan, Museum Assistant

What a busy year it has been here at the Museum of the Order of St John! Here are some of our favourite images from 2018 to give a snapshot of what we have been up to.


Although we are constantly working to look after the building and our collection, we always take some time at the start of the year to do a deep clean. In addition to this, early 2018 saw the Chapter Hall repainted and conservation cleaning carried out on some of our paintings.

Conservation Cleaning



Songs of Praise paid us a visit in February, filming in our church and Museum. Head of Heritage Tom also played a staring role, discussing the history of St John Ambulance with Reverend Kate Bottley.

Students from Camberwell School of Art took over our galleries, displaying interpretive installations and artworks inspired by the collection. The pieces displayed below are by Emilie Burfeind, Jiayue Guo and Hannah Janssen. Be sure to visit us in February 2019 to see what this year’s group have created.

Camberwell Arts Designs



Instead of spring, March brought with it snow and robotic knights. A temporary exhibition, Techno Medioevo: Age of Future Reloaded opened amidst the wintery weather which covered the plants in our garden completely.

Snow and a Robot



The Easter Holidays brought many families to the Museum to participate in our Family Fun activities. Besides hosting a popular “Dragon Egg Hunt”, families also learnt about how the Gate used to be home to a printing press. In June we found out that we were shortlisted for the Kid’s in Museums Family Friendly Award. We hope to build on this success in the new year. Our Family Programme for 2019 will be released shortly.

Printing activity



Every May we host part of Clerkenwell Design Week in our Church and Crypt. The event showcases design from around the world in an area ripe with creative industries.

An artwork inspired by our Tudor history was installed under the Gate this year. “Royal Approval” by Kinetech Design alluded the Shakespearian works that the Office of the Master of Revels approved when they were based on the site of the Priory in the sixteenth century.

Metal sculpture under gate

As part of Museums at Night we held our traditional Ye Old Tavern Quiz, this year with a Maltese twist.

Quiz in the Chapter Hall

A conservator  carried out some cleaning work on the “Spanish Cabinet” which resides in our Chapter Hall. This photograph, which we posted on our Twitter page, provides a rare glimpse at the beautiful interior, normally hidden from public view.

Inside the Spanish Cabinet



We spent much of June outside. At the start of the month we were invited to Westminster Abbey to take part in their Glorious Gardens activity morning. The children were encouraged to make soap balls using herbs from our garden.

Westminster Abbey Garden Stall

As part of Open Garden Squares, we welcomed hundreds to our Cloister Garden with a Jazz and Cocktails event. To celebrate Valletta being European Capital of Culture in 2018, our public programme this year has been Malta themed. Visitors were treated to Maltese beverages and Pastizzi kindly provided by the Maltese Cultural Movement.

People in the Cloister Garden



On the hottest day of the year we held our Community Day, “Introducing St John Ambulance: Caring in communities since 1080”. Bertie Badger paid us a visit, joining in with the activities despite the heat. Visitors got to witness sketches which depicted historic first aid methods, before they were corrected by current St John volunteers.

People at the Community Day



Throughout the summer months we ran our special Malta Tours. They offered visitors the chance to learn more about the Order of St John in Malta through the objects in our collection.



Our temporary exhibition “Edward Caruana Dingli: All in Order” ran throughout September. A talented portraitist, Dingli completed many paintings of Order members. To accompany the exhibition, Dr. Mike Horswell gave a talk on the Order’s 1926 Pilgrimage, an event that Dingli depicted in Pilgrimage of 1926. The Sub-Prior Investing the Governor of Malta with the Insignia of the Order of St. John in the Throne-Room of the Grand Master’s Palace at Valletta, a painting that hangs in our Church.



As a member of the London Museums of Health and Medicine group, we were invited to take part in their Up-Close and Medical event at the British Dental Museum. We took along some objects from our handling collection for visitors to get to grips with.



With the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, the Museum reflected on the contributions St John made to the First World War. 45,000 St John men and women participated in the war effort and 1,077 lives were lost by the time of the Armistice.

Throughout November we displayed figures from the There But Not There project which aims to raise awareness of and educate people about the lives lost during the conflict. These figures can be seen in our Memorial Garden.

In addition, the London and South Cadets produced an exhibition celebrating the contribution of members from their region. Badgers from the same region made wreaths.

Rememberance Events



The Priory Church played host to the inaugural HistFest, a new history festival that showcased a refreshingly diverse range of speakers and histories.

In the build up to Christmas, the gate has been decorated with both a Christmas tree and a twilight tree under the archway. Visitors were invited to create their own decorations to hang on our tree.


Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the museum over the last year. 2019 is set to be busy with our programme of events themed around the Order’s Royal Connections. See you there!

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