Swingfield Preceptory

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Swingfield Preceptory


St Johns Commandery, near Densole, Kent - geograph.org.uk - 41649.jpg
St Johns Commandery
Grid reference: TR23234402
Location: 51°9’6"N, 1°11’26"E
Order: Knights Hospitaller
Built 13th Century
Owned by: English Heritage
Website: St John's Commandery

Swingfield Preceptory, otherwise known as St John's Commandery, Swingfield was a priory in Kent belonging in the Middle Ages to the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, known as the Knights Hospitallers; Swingfield was one of several preceptories which supplied the Order with funds for its holy work of protecting pilgrims in the Holy Land and slaying Saracens and Turks.

The priory stood about 5 miles north of Folkestone in Kent. It was seized by the Crown at the Reformation, as the Order was dissolved in England as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII. Today the commandery in the care of English Heritage.


A nunnery of the Order of St John stood here up to 1180, but in that year the sisters were removed to Buckland Priory in Somerset and the Knights took control of Swingfield, as lords of the manor.[1] The manor served as a preceptory (or 'commandery'), supplying money for the Order's needs.

The commandery was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the state was leased on 16 March 1541 to John Thorgood and Thomas Horseley for twenty-one years.[1] It then passed through many families (including Sir Anthony Aucher, Sir Henry Palmer, of Wingham and Sir Thomas Palmer, 4th Baronet, of Wingham).[2]

The 13th-century St John's Chapel still survives on Swanton Lane and is under the care of English Heritage.


The preceptory was originally built between the 13th and 16th centuries as a farmhouse of flint, which has been knapped in places. It also has stone quoins and dressings.

The west gable end is tile-hung on both floors. The north elevation retains areas of render painted and is scored to resemble red brick in Flemish bond.[3]

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