The Investiture of Brian Caswell
in the Order of St John of Jerusalem
On Wednesday 17th May, Brian Caswell travelled to London to be formally invested as a Member of Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. The Order is one of seven Orders of Chivalry of the Crown including the better known Order of the Garter and the Order of the Bath but it is the only operational Order of Chivalry of the Crown.
It is also the only Order that has its own buildings, including a Priory Church, in London at Clerkenwell, where the buildings date back to 1144 but the Order itself dates back to the 11th century and the Knights Hospitallers. Brian was able to take two guests so his wife Chris and their long standing family friend, Mavis Harrison, were able to attend the ceremony.
King Charles III is the Sovereign Head of the Order and HRH, The Duke of Gloucester, is the Grand Prior but Brian was actually invested by Stuart Shilson who is the Prior of The Priory of England and the Islands.
The Investiture ceremony took place in the Priory Church at Clerkenwell and was attended by many senior Members of the Order, all wearing their long black ceremonial mantles (cloaks). After the introductory organ music, members of the Priory Clergy processed, first followed by the Priory Chapter together with banner bearers of the different Priories of the Order. Finally the Prior’s procession entered. There were about 30 people being invested or promoted within the Order on the day.
It is a Christian Order but admits people of different religions or none and the ceremony incorporated the singing of the National Anthem, various prayers and expressing loyalty to the King. By name, each Postulant was called forward by the Chancellor. They then shook hands with the Prior and chatted briefly with him after the insignia medal had been pinned on their left lapels.
After the ceremony, everyone had tea in the Chapter house where Brian managed to speak with a few members of the Order that he knew. Then they set off to catch the train home.
[Brian Caswell MStJ, from an article written for Contact Magazine]