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ST JOHNS COMMANDERY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ST JOHNS FARMHOUSE, ST JOHNS CHAPEL, SWINGFIELD HOSPITALLERS PRECEPTORY
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The chapel known as St John's Commandery close to the village of Swingfield. It was built by the Knights Hospitallers in the 13th century as part of a preceptory founded in 1180 on the site of the nunnery of the Sisters of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The chapel is the only surviving building, although traces of other buildings survive as earthworks to the south and west of the chapel. The chapel and part of an adjoining hall were converted into a farmhouse after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540. Further alterations were made during the 18th century and 19th century. It was restored in 1972-74. It appears that the chapel was situated to the east of a courtyard. The cemetery lay to the northeast of the chapel.

The building is constructed of flint, and has three lancet windows in the east wall which are original. The crown-post roof structure was tree-ring dated and an estimated felling date for the roof timbers was given in the range AD 1395-1405, suggesting it was a later replacement. The chapel has a piscine (stone basin where sacred vessels were washed), and an aumbrey (cupboard for the communion vessels). To the east of the south doorway is the consecration cross carved on the wall. The two-stoey porch on the north wall indicates that the west end of the building always had an upper floor and was once in domestic use. The central chimney stack dates from the 16th century, and the ground floor parlour has a ceiling of the same period. Doors led from this room to the south wing (now demolished). There is a pointed-arched opening of 13th century date to the room above the porch. The chapel is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.