Highlights of the chapel and garden

A woman walking up the path towards the chapel, looking at the planted borders.

There's something so relaxing about being beside the water, and here at St John's Jerusalem it's no exception.

Whether you've been drawn here to see the rare chapel or want to wander in the gardens, you can spend a peaceful afternoon here.


An island retreat

Originally as a monastery belonging to crusading knights, the site would've been bustling. It wasn't just a place of worship - there were many more buildings, and people lived and worked here. It was possible that there was even a hospital here. 

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon beside the river
A grass path follows the riverbank, with trees lining the other bank
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon beside the river

Today when you visit, you'll be greeted by the peace and tranquility provided by the gardens, surrounded by a moat - a contrast to urban Dartford just 3 miles away. Wander up and down the borders, finding inspiration from the soft swathes of colour in this traditional English garden. Close your eyes and listen to the wind rustling in the trees and the birds singing up above. Meander along the mown pathways in the meadow and enjoy a stroll along the riverbank, looking at the light glinting on the water and dragonflies dancing.


A chapel most rare

Discover the simplicity of the medieval chapel of the Knights Hospitaller
Three arched windows behind the simple altar table in the 13th century chapel at St Johns Jerusalem
Discover the simplicity of the medieval chapel of the Knights Hospitaller

The small rectangular chapel, with its external buttresses, is lit by simple lancet windows (tall narrow windows with a pointed arch). Built in the early part of the 13th century, records show that King Henry II ordered five oaks from Tonbridge Forest for the chapel roof.

The chapel you see today isn't the same as when it was originally built. There are fewer windows, and the door is in a different place. At the south western end, there may even have been a tower. Although the interior is simple, with no stained glass, there are some interesting architectural decorations to discover.


Saved for the nation

Sir Stephen and Lady Tallents gave St John's Jerusalem to us in 1943, so we could look after it. More than 50 years later the British government, through their agency Historic England (formerly the Ministry for Works, and later part of English Heritage), recognised the importance of this site and granted it Scheduled Ancient Monument status.

Scheduling is given to the most important examples of each type of monument. It is an additional protection on this important site, and it means we have access to additional resources to help preserve this site for everyone.