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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more.
www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick.
http://www.faysampson.co.uk

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The Knights of St. John Still a Colourful Presence in London

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ March 6, 2012

Oh, my goodness, I had this great idea to do a series on the background of A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH, the newest of my Monastery Murder books, and here it is more than two months since my post on the atmospheric, soggy, boggy Norfolk Broads where dead bodies can be washed out of the earth and nefarious villains lurk in ancient church towers. Http://ning.it/wVudAM

Well, I suppose an article every two months can still be called a series, but that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. So, without further havering about, let’s move on to London, the seat of The Knights of St. John, AKA The Knights of Malta or The Knights Hospitaller.

The oldest of the knights/monks, The Knights Hospitaller were founded in 1023 to watch over Christian sites in the Holy Land and to provide hospitality (therefore the name Hospitaller) to pilgrims to these sites. Their more famous brothers, the Templars, were formed in 1119. And, unlike the Templars, which were disbanded by the King of France in 1307, The Knights of St. John/Malta/Hospitaller continue their work today.

Although they are best known in England today for their St. John Ambulance work (a sort of domestic Red Cross) their roots go back to The Temple, the round church enclosing the tombs of medieval knights which today serves as the church for London’s lawyers— make that barristers and solicitors. Fans of the TV series "Rumpole of the Bailey" may recall scenes of Rumpole worshipping here, but I went, as Felicity does, to visit the tombs and learn the history.

 

 

 

And then on to The Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth, known to Londoners as "John & Lizzies." This amazing hospital is still run by the Knights of St. John on their original principle that "The sick are our lords" and nothing is too good for them. This is certainly carried out in the decor of the church in the center of the building. You’ve never seen a hospital chapel like this one!

 

 

 

 

 

Lots more London sites to explore as Felicity and Antony track a killer with possible ties to The Knights of St. John, but I’ll leave those for another day while Felicity enjoys her succulent salmon filet lunch in the Terrace Restaurant at John & Lizzies— a lunch that wasn’t the least bit fictional. After all, I’ll do anything for research!

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

As soon as I read St John in the title I thought St John's ambulance. Ah, memories.
-Sheila Deeth, March 8, 2012

Hope they aren't memories of *being* in an ambulance, Sheila!
-Donna, March 8, 2012

No. Just of friends being "in" St John's ambulance brigade and wishing I could join them.
-Sheila Deeth, March 8, 2012

The round shape and its name, The Temple, show its origin as a Templar church. When the order of the Templar knights was abolished, the Knights Hospitaller often benifitted by taking over their property. The round Temple churches took as their model a circular church on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the Templars had their headquarters and from which they derived their name.

Fay
-faysampson, March 13, 2012

Thank you, Fay! When I was there I hoped to get to interview the Master of the Temple Robin Griffith but he wasn't available. I bought his book instead--about the Temple Church and the Da Vinci Code because he has so many people show up carrying Dan Brown. They say, "Have you read the book?" He pretneds to think they mean the Bible.
-Donna, March 13, 2012

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