St John's gate is the entrance to the former Priory of the Knights of St John. The Museum of St John tells the story from the order of St John in Jerusalem to the role of St John's Ambulance today.
It is a small museum but very informative charting the history of the order. The order of St John was founded in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims travelling to the Holy land. As the order grew they were given lands in England and other parts of Europe which provided food, money and people for their work. The order of St John has occupied land here in Clerkenwell since 1140 when the land was donated to the Knights for the building of their Priory which became the Knights English headquarters. Three religious communities resided here - the Priory of St John, the Nunnery of St Mary and later the Charterhouse.
Near to St John's gate and the museum is the Priory Church of the order of St John of Jerusalem. It was consecrated in 1185 but destroyed by enemy action in 1941. However the 12th cent crypt still remains.
In 1540 King Henry VIII took the order's property including the Priory at Clerkenwell.
The founders of St John wanted the organisation to resume the original ethos of caring for the sick as well as being an order of chivalry. The organisation was the first to give medical knowledge to the public in the form of First Aid classes. The founders also set up Britain's first system of care and treatment for victims of accidents. In 1877 St John Ambulance Association was formed.