17 December 2008


Christmas is closing in on us all. As is our tradition, we will each be taking a holiday starting next week. We will be off on holiday for varying amounts of time, and may not get much updating done on our blog. We will, however, save up all the good bits and report when we return. See you all soon...

16 December 2008


In talking with our fellow confrères, we've determined that there is a lack of knowledge regarding a very important principal officer of the VOSJ. The Secretary-General, an office currently held by Admiral Andrew Gough, is the chief executive officer of the Order and in charge of the Order's headquarters at St John's Gate, Clerkenwell. He also serves as the secretary to the Grand Council and provides twice-yearly reports on the Order Secretariat's activities to all of the priories. According to the Order's regulations, the Secretary-General is accountable directly to the Lord Prior. Admiral Gough does a great deal of traveling on behalf of the Order and has done a great job as Secretary-General since his appointment.

12 December 2008

Bravery in the Pyrenees

Yesterday, the VOSJ's award for bravery was presented to a very deserving young man. Will Close-Ash was given the Orders Life Saving Medal for an incident that occured in June. Mr Close-Ash was leading an expedition in the French mountains when it was discovered that a group of tourists had run into some trouble. Under Close-Ash's leadership, the tourists travelers were successfully rescued, and he is now being awarded the silver Life Saving Medal.

According to the Order's regulations, "the Life Saving Medal may be bestowed on a person who has performed a conspicuous act of bravery; in performing that act has endangered his own life; and has performed that act in saving or attempting to save the life of one or more other persons." The medal was instituted in 1874 and the silver has been awarded less than 200 times since then. With the humility that is often present in true heroes, Mr Close-Ash said, “I’m delighted to receive the medal, but even more pleased that all of the men survived. I’m proud of the work my cadets and staff did on the mountain that day, and without their efforts those men would have died.” Congratulations!

11 December 2008

Australian Minister Promoted

We saw in the London Gazette recently that Dr Richard Westwood Worth was recently promoted to the grade of knight in the VOSJ. Dr Worth is the Minister of Internal Affairs in Australia and has been continually and quietly serving with the St John Ambulance in that Priory. This is a well-deserved honour--coming fast on the heals of his appointment as Minister. It is always a pleasure to see high-ranking government officials involved in the VOSJ, because it helps to give some visibility to the Order's mission.

10 December 2008

Something Funny

As we are often known to do, we were spending some time in the local library this week. We stumbled on a ridiculous book. It appears to be the work of a conspiracy theory group in the western United States, but it specifically mentions the VOSJ, so we thought we would take a look.

The "book" in question is called Taking Off the Blindfold, by G.C. Hatonn. Essentially, it espouses the theory that the entire world is controlled by a Jewish/Satanist group of which HM Queen Elizabeth II is a part. The following paragraph comes from the section of chapter 1 entitled "Knights of the Order of the Garter:"
The Knights of the Order of the Garter are the leaders of the Committee of 300, Queen Elizabeth II’s most trusted “privy council”. When I did my research on the Order of St. John of Jerusalem some years ago, I went to Oxford to talk with one of the Masters who is a specialist on ancient and modern British traditions. He told me that the Knights of the Garter are the inner sanctum, the elite of the elite of Her Majesty’s Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem. Let me say this is not the original order founded by the true Christian warrior, Peter Gerard, but is typical of many fine institutions that are taken over and destroyed from the inside, while yet appearing to the uninitiated to be the original.

The next section is entitled "Order of Jerusalem (and a Little Satanism!)" and goes more specifically into the VOSJ. Here, the author states:

I learned from the papers in the museum named after Victoria that she changed the name of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1885 in order to break away from the Catholic connection of the Order’s founder, Peter Gerard, and renamed it the “Protestant Most Venerable Order of Jerusalem.” Membership was open to every oligarchical family that had made its fortune in the China opium trade and every thoroughly decadent family received a place in the ‘new order.’

The next section brings the discussion to Canada discusses "the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who control Canadian commerce in all of its facets." Now we had a long discussion about this book amongst ourselves. Some of us wanted to make mention of this odd publication and some of us wanted to leave well enough alone. In the end, we decided that the negative consequence of free press for these conspiracy theorists was less than the positive consequence of sharing what a few nuts in Las Vegas think. If we know what misinformation is out there, we can more easily defend ourselves against it...and it was good for a laugh.

07 December 2008

Lord Prior Interview

With the installation of a new Lord Prior, the VOSJ has posted a short interview on its webpage. Gemma Mullick, the communications and training coordinator at the Order Secretariat has interviewed Professor Mellows. You can find the interview here. We look forward to seeing what great things Mellows has in store for the VOSJ.

05 December 2008

Changing Focus

We were looking at the website of the Priory in the United States of American yesterday and saw that the Priory has finally completed its relocation to a new location. The Priory's historical center has been in New York City since the formation of the American Society of the VOSJ in 1958. The first American investiture service took place at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York on 6 January 1960. This year, the Priory offices have moved to a truly national headquarters--Washington, D.C. This fit very well with the most recent American investiture service held in the same city and also is convenient for the new Prior, who resides in Virginia instead of New York.

03 December 2008


One of our readers e-mailed us recently to ask us a question regarding the rank of Esquire (Grade VI) in the VOSJ. There was some talk in the last couple of years about getting rid of the grade. In fact, at the May 2006 meeting of the Grand Council, it was decided that Grade VI would in future be abolished as a Grade of the Order. Statutory changes would have been required for this action. Since the statutes have not yet been changed, personal esquires can still be appointed by knights of the Order pursuant to the current Statutes.

Recently, we've heard talk that the grade of Esquire will not be abolished, but only personal esquires. The main problem originally seems to have been that personal esquires could be appointed to the Order by their knights without much involvement from HM The Queen--the Sovereign Head of the VOSJ. To keep this from happening, some wanted to do away with the grade. Priory Esquires are another matter. They are defined in Grand Council Instruction #10 and are appointed by the various Priories and not individual confrères.

The e-mail that sparked this post came from one that hopes to join the Order soon. He wondered if he ought to start as an Esquire or a Member. His main concern was that he was past a certain age. We have seen Esquires that are well into and past middle age. It is true that most of the Esquires in the VOSJ are in their 20s and sometimes their 30s, there is no age limit to the appointment. Esquires do not have most of the same privileges and are entitled to wear the Order's button in their lapel as their only insignia.
So if advising someone who has a choice, we would undoubtedly say that one should be admitted to the Order as a Member and not as an Esquire.

01 December 2008

Another Vice-Prior

We're about two months late on this, but our recent look at Newfoundland and Labrador reminded us of an image of the current Lieutenant-Governor and Vice-Prior in this Canadian province. Here you can see John Crosbie being admitted to the Order as a Knight of Justice on 30 September. The investiture ceremony took place at the Anglican Cathedral Church in St. John's. Just though you might like to see it.