The St John Archive preserves material dating from the 1870s onwards, which provides invaluable information on the structure, personnel and activities of the Order of St John and St John Ambulance. The archive has been formed from a variety of different sources and coverage is therefore representative rather than comprehensive. Nevertheless, the holdings contain records relating to the development and dissemination of first aid practices; the growth of the ambulance movement and the hugely important work performed by the organisation during the Boer War, and the First and Second World Wars.

Summary of Holdings

Currently only limited parts of the St John Archive are catalogued including holdings relating to: the First World War, Richard Temple and Winston Churchill. Our First World War holdings consist mainly of records relating to the St John Ambulance Brigade Hospital in Étaples; the work of the Joint War Committee; Voluntary Aid Detachments and Auxiliary Hospitals in England, Wales and Ireland. Please note that we do not hold any personnel records for First World War Voluntary Aid Detachment members, these are held in the archives of the British Red Cross Society and are searchable on the British Red Cross website. Richard Temple’s archive predominantly contains correspondence, minutes and reports in relation to his work with the Joint War Committee and the Indian Soldiers’ Fund during the First World War. The materials associated with Winston Churchill consist largely of correspondence and maps regarding the role of the St John Ambulance Brigade at his funeral.

Enquiries about access

The archive of the Order of St John welcomes visitors for research appointments however, please be aware that due limited resources and space restrictions, we can only accommodate a small number of researchers at any one time. Additionally, as a result of confidentiality restrictions, we are unable to allow researchers to access personnel records or Order citations although, for a small donation, we are happy to search these for you – please see our enquiries page for further details.

Research visits must be arranged in advance, with at least two weeks’ notice. Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment. To request an appointment please contact the Museum by emailing

Finding Aids

As and when we are able to catalogue further collections within the St John Archive, we will publish the finding aids here.

Online Resources

London Museums of Health and Medicine

For collections, libraries and expertise relating to the history of medicine, the London Museums of Health and Medicine may be able to help!

The group, of which the Museum of the Order of St John is a member, has recently updated its website to provide information about the twenty-five participating museums as well as exhibitions, events and enquiries.


London Museums of Health and Medicine Website


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: