Volunteering at the the Priory Church of the Order of St John

Museum of the Order of St John Elena Rigney, Church Volunteer

I live in Clerkenwell and must have walked through this ancient area of the City hundreds of times without realising of the Museum of the Order of St John telling us all a fascinating story of how the Order came to live all the way from the 12th century with links to the Crusades up to its revival in the 19th century.

I started volunteering at the Museum just over a year ago – in the summer 2014. The time flew by literally in the blink of an eye, but allowed me nevertheless to learn so many mesmerizing facts about the building itself and the history of the Order overall.

The London’s best hidden gem for me is of course the original 12th century Norman Crypt, “lurking” under a 20th century re-build after wartime bombing where I have an honour and pleasure to meet and greet tourists and visitors every other weekend.

It is amusing to see how many visitors discover a Priory Church literally by chance once they wander into the cloister garden to seek their refuge from London’s traffic noise and scorching summer heat. This could be only described as serendipity – a fortunate and pleasant surprise once looking for something else– and I share their excitement when they enter the building only happy to provide further guidance, if needed.

Not two days are the same here at the Museum and I feel exceedingly fortunate to be a part of this wonderful and historical oasis, stepping forward as a gallery assistant alongside the friendly staff and my fellow volunteers.

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