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St John's Jerusalem Preceptory, Sutton-at-Hone

In the civil parish of Sutton-at-Hone and Hawley.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ55887035
Latitude 51.41080° Longitude 0.24008°

St John's Jerusalem Preceptory, Sutton-at-Hone has been described as a Fortified Ecclesiastical site although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


A preceptory of the order of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem was founded here in 1199 by Robert de Basing. The main portion of the building dates from the C13 and was the Chapel of the Preceptory, but it was much altered by Edward Hasted, the County Historian in 1755-6. Two storeys and attics. The east end is faced with flints and has 2 lancet windows at first floor level which light the chapel. To the west of these is a buttress of flints and stone, then a blocked pointed mediaeval stone doorway and then another lancet. Double piscina inside. The remainder of the original building to the west has been refaced with red brick in the C18. This has 4 windows, with wide glazing bars intact, on ground and first floors are stone lancet windows and a doorcase with Gibbs surround and pediment over. Above the whole of the original portion are 4 pedimented dormers which were added in the C19. Tiled roof. To the west of the original building is a late C18 addition of higher elevation erected on the foundation of a C13 tower. This is stuccoed and has long and short quoins at its west end, a wooden modillion eaves cornice, one window and a pedimented dormer. To the north-east is an L-wing in buff brick added in the C19. (Listed Building Report)

Archaeological remains of the preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers at Sutton-at-Hone survive well and it is rare for standing remains to survive in monuments of this class. In addition, it will provide evidence relating to the occupation of the site and the nature of the surrounding environment. The waterfilled moat and the associated fishpond provide ideal conditions for the survival of organic remains.
The monument includes a moated preceptory and an associated fishpond situated beside the River Darent. The preceptory lies on a NNW-SSE orientated, sub-rectangular, artificial island measuring 185m by 120m. In the north western quarter of the island are the remains of the preceptory chapel, dating from the 13th century, incorporated within a later, 16th century residence, with 17th and substantial 18th and 19th century additions and alterations in brick. The residence is a Grade II star Listed Building. Documentary evidence suggests that the main period of medieval building took place around 1234, when Henry III is recorded as having ordered five oaks from Tonbridge Forest for the chapel roof. The chapel is a rectangular building, with external buttresses, constructed of flint rubble with ashlar dressings. It is lit by simple, lancet windows, several of which, along with the original doorway on the south eastern wall, have been blocked at a later date. Inside the chapel, on the ground floor at the eastern end of the south eastern wall, is a double piscina, or alcove, originally containing water basins. At the south western end is a further area of medieval walling which may represent the remains of a tower. Traces of further preceptory buildings may survive in buried form beneath the undulating ground which forms the modern gardens surrounding the residence. The island is surrounded on all four sides by a moat, the south western arm of which is formed by the River Darent. The northward flow of the river both feeds and drains the moat. The north western, north eastern and south eastern arms remain waterfilled and are between 5m and 8m wide. A modern sluice controls the flow of the river near the north western corner of the moat, and the banks of the river at this point are retained with modern brick walls. There is also a smaller modern sluice on the north western arm of the moat. The moat is bounded by retaining earthworks which survive particularly well on the north western and north eastern sides, taking the form of substantial linear banks up to 2m high and 12m wide. Access to the island is provided by a Grade II Listed, 19th century, brick-built bridge situated near the northern end of the south western arm of the moat. Two modern footbridges span the north eastern arm and the north western corner of the moat. The preceptory is thought to have gone out of use by 1338, after which time it was used as a residence. Amongst its later occupants were Abraham Hill, a founder member of the Royal Society, who lived at the manor house between 1667 and 1721, and, between 1757 and 1776, Edward Hasted, the historian, who carried out many of the 18th century alterations to the buildings. The preceptory and its surrounding land were given to the National Trust by Sir Stephen and Lady Tallents in 1943. To the south west of the moat on the opposite river bank are the earthwork remains of a narrow, rectangular fishpond originally fed with freshwater by the river. This is a slightly sunken, marshy area of ground 146m long and 12m wide. (Scheduling Report)

Large moat and some remains of the medieval preceptory. As with other preceptory buildings of the knightly orders it is possible the buildings were built in an architectural style that reflected the martial roles of the order
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 27/08/2017 07:06:30

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