Thursday, 6 May 2010

Did they make a Maltese Cross?

Using the back roads to get from Samphire Hoe to Lydden I came across a building I had either not noticed or not passed before. I looked interesting but unfortunately I was only able to look from the out side because it is all locked up. St John's Commandery is an English Heritage site and it is possible to view by prior arrangement.
Their WEB site gives the following information:
"The flint-walled 13th-century chapel and hall of a 'Commandery' of Knights Hospitallers, later converted into a farmhouse. It has a remarkable medieval crown post roof and 16th-century ceilings with moulded beams."

The Order of the Knights Hospitaller (or the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem or the Knights of Rhodes, or latter, the Knights of Malta) has its origins in Jerusalem.
The Knights Hospitaller Order was founded by Italian merchants from Amalfi. In the second half of the 11th Century, Jerusalem was in the hands of the Sultan of Egypt. Through their business and influence, the Amalfitans obtained the permission to build a house near the Holy Sepulchre. The house was to serve as a shelter for the Western pilgrims. They also built a convent for the Benedictine monks, and a church dedicated to Saint Mary.

The History of the Knights Hospitaller is fascinating and a google book by Dr Helen Nicholson of Cardiff University fills in much of the history, and may be helps give an insight into the current political divide in the middle east.

I am always excited to get a new book, and the Dragonflies of Kent by John and Gill Brooks is no exception. This is a follow up to their original Kent Field Club publication and now has added a mass of new information and some wonderful illustrations. Kent has some forty species on the County List and this is an invaluable guide to their distribution and natural history. A wonderful piece of work by two dedicated naturalists.

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