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Order of St. John
Last modified: 2016-07-30 by rob raeside
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by Graham Bartram
There are usually two flags on display at St John's Gate, Clerkenwell. This
was the southern gate of a large priory covering Clerkenwell in the 1600s and
now houses the headquarters of the Order, a shop and a museum. One of the flags
is a banner of arms, the other has an emblem in the middle of the cross, which I
no longer recall from memory, but I will try to find a photograph from my
archive or get a new one. A photo at
http://upload.wikimedia.org shows the two flags atop the gatehouse, the
unknown flag on the left and the Order of St John flag on the right. As far as I
recall, the curator of the Museum told me the other flag belonged to one of the
officers of the order.
Colin Dobson, 3 July 2007
The 2003 regulations, at
http://www.orderofstjohn.org/pdf/regs2003.pdf, contain in Appendix I "Rules
for the use of the Arms, Badge, and Banners of the Order". In particular,
sections 3, 4 and 5 focus on flags of the Order:
So, the regulations provide for the Grand Prior or Lord Prior's banners to
be flown at St John's Gate along with the Great Banner, but the banners
described here do not seem to fit with Colin's observation of a banner of
arms defaced in the centre of the cross.
- Great Banner of the Order
- The Great Banner of the Order as prescribed by Statute 46 shall be 35¼
inches in height, 43¾ inches in width with a 2 inch fringe of alternate
white and red sections 2 inches wide bordering the Banner on three
sides. The limbs of the cross thereon shall be 9¼ inches wide and the
representation of the Royal Crest in the first quarter shall be
depicted as large as may conveniently be placed in that quarter. The
Great Banner of the Order shall be flown from a staff on the top of which
shall be a representation of the Badge of the Order as prescribed in
- How Used.-
The Great Banner of the Order shall be flown at all times at St. John's
Gate, at the St. John Hospital in Jerusalem, and over the Headquarters of
all Priories and Commanderies. It may be flown on other appropriate
places on St. John's Day, on the 8th September being the anniversary of
the relief of Malta in 1565, and on such other occasions as may be
appointed by Regulations. It may be flown by the Grand Prior, and by the
Lord Prior whenever and wherever they may think fit, but by no other
member of the Order. It may be carried or flown by the Grand Council,
Grand Prior's Advisory Council, or Priory or Commandery Chapters
when in procession or in session. A flag similar to the Great Banner but
without the fringe may be flown in place of the Great Banner, in which
case the staff need not carry a representation of the Badge of the Order
Save as aforesaid, it may be used by other assemblies of the Order, or by
any of its Establishments or Foundations, with the express consent of the
Grand Prior given on the recommendation of the Grand Council, but not
- On days of National Mourning, on the days between the death and
interment of a Bailiff or Dame Grand Cross, and on such other occasions
as the Grand Prior may direct, the Great Banner of the Order at St.
John's Gate shall be flown at Half Mast.
- Banners of the Grand Prior and of the Lord Prior
The Banners of the Grand Prior and of the Lord Prior display their Arms with
the Arms of the Order in chief. The Banner of the Grand Prior, in addition to
the Great Banner of the Order, shall be flown at St. John's Gate on those
days on which it is the intention of the Grand Prior to visit St. John's
Gate. On days other than those the Banner of the Lord Prior shall be flown
at St. John's Gate whenever he is in London. The Banner of the Lord Prior
shall be flown at Half Mast on days of National Mourning and on other
occasions as directed by him.
- Personal Banners
- The provisions of this paragraph shall apply in relation to an Order
or Priory Ceremony at which Robes are (in accordance with Appendix II)
- A Bailiff or Dame Grand Cross being armigerous shall be entitled to
have carried immediately after him or her a Personal Banner depicting his
or her Arms with those of the Order in chief.
- A Prior of a Priory who is not a Bailiff or Dame Grand Cross, but who is
armigerous, shall be entitled to have carried immediately after him or her a
Personal Banner depicting his or her Arms simpliciter.
- The provisions of sub-paragraph (iii) shall also apply to the
Chancellor of a Priory if and for so long as the Prior of that Priory is a
Governor General or other Head of State.
- Save as provided in this paragraph, Personal Banners shall not be carried
any Order or Priory Ceremony.
Jonathan Dixon, 5 July 2007
The order claims to be following in the
tradition of the original Order of Hospitallers, and as such is a Christian
Order, with Christian ethos and values. It requires the Great Officers to
profess the Christian faith and all members (of the Order, not its foundations)
to promise to "endeavour always to uphold the aims of this Christian Order",
however, the Order no longer has separate clerical grades of membership. The
Prelate must be a bishop in the Church of England, and in many places, whenever
there is a religious aspect to the Order's activities, an Anglican church is
involved, but this is not always the case. Any other time official regulations
and so on refer to religion they speak simply of "the Christian faith" or "a
minister of the Christian religion".
Jonathan Dixon, 6 July 2007
images from Mattias Hansson, 29 May 2016
This flag was offered for sale on eBay earlier this year. This is what the seller had to contribute: "On offer a large vintage well made flag representing the UK in very good condition. I'm not sure if this is a made up flag or if it does represent some country or county, there is a small image of the crown in the top, against a background of red and white, while the bottom half of the flag is mustard yellow with a large image of a lion's claw on it. Measuring approximately 71" x 48" this flag has been well stitched. It has been designed to fly from a pole and still has its toggles and rope attached. Made from a fine wool this flag has is in very good condition."
Mattias Hansson, 29 May 2016
Is it not the banner of arms of an officer
of the Order of St John?
"A Bailiff or Dame Grand Cross being armigerous shall be entitled to have
carried immediately after him or her a Personal Banner depicting his or her Arms
with those of the Order in chief." The arms of the lion's leg appear in
Ordinary, where they are attributed to a prince of Powis, in Wales, and to a family named
Eyton in Denbighshire.
Ian Sumner, 3 June 2016
A personal banner of a Bailiff Grand Cross in the Order of St John (the British version, that is - formally the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem),
showing the arms of
a href="http://www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk/online/content/lp1958%20c.htm?zoom_highlight=caccia">Harold Caccia, titled Baron Caccia of Abernant in the county of Breconshire. He was
Lord Prior of the Order from 1969-1981.
Jonathan Dixon, 5 June 2016