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The Museum of the Order of St John tells the story of the Order’s history. Housed in the Tudor entrance Gate of the original Priory, the Museum was first established in the 19th century, when the newly re-formed Venerable Order of St John purchased the building to use as its headquarters. 

The Museum has a fascinating collection and some highlights include a Flemish altarpiece that stood in the Priory church, a magnificent missal from the island of Rhodes, a cannon given to the Knights by Henry VIII, outstanding Maltese silver, and David Bomberg’s painting of the Jerusalem Eye Hospital. 

The rich collections include paintings, decorative arts, armour and an extensive archive that brings to life the human aspect of St John’s history as a volunteer led organisation, present at many pivotal events in 20th century history.

The Gate itself is an exhibit – a fine Tudor structure built not long before the Priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1542. It then became the office for the Master of the Revels, who licensed public entertainments in London; so it was here that some 26 of Shakespeare’s plays were cleared for performance. Later it was the childhood home of painter William Hogarth, whose father ran a coffee-house in the Gate, and after that it housed The Gentleman’s Magazine for which Dr Johnson worked. Eventually it became a pub, the Old Jerusalem Tavern, and it was this that the revived Order was able to buy and re-establish as their headquarters.

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