From 1199, St John’s Jerusalem served as a Commandery for the Christian military order, the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John Jerusalem. During the Dissolution of the Monasteries the property was sold in 1540 to Sir Maurice Dens, the Receiver of the Order. The chapel is the only remaining structure of the Preceptory and stands adjacent to a now privately occupied and much-altered house, both surrounded by a moat, an arm of the River Darenth. Amongst the later occupants of the house was Abraham Hill (1633–1721), a founder of the Royal Society; the county historian Edward Hasted (1732–1812); and, in the twentieth century, Sir Stephen and Lady Tallents, who gave it to the National Trust in 1943. Sir Stephen (1884–1958) was an eminent civil servant, writer, philanthropist and PR expert, sometimes dubbed the ‘founder of PR in Britain’. While Secretary of the Empire Marketing Board, he commissioned artists including Clive Gardiner, Edward McKnight Kauffer and Frank Newbould to produce a series of large posters. This period of art is no longer evident at the property and there are only a few devotional pictures remaining in the chapel and two portraits that commemorate Knights of the Order (both on loan from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta).
National Trust, St John's Jerusalem
Sutton-at-Hone, Dartford, Kent DA4 9HQ England
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