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Coningsby Museum PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alison Grange   
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 15:29

Herefordshire Council is urging county residents and visitors alike to make sure they don’t miss out on seeing one of Hereford’s hidden gems, the Coningsby Museum, during the Easter or summer holidays.

Just ten minutes walk from Hereford city centre, behind a row of medieval alms houses, are the St John Medieval Museum and Chapel which people may pass by without realising they had missed anything.


The site also contains a restored 13th century chapel of the Order of St John, the St John Medieval Museum created in the early 1970s, a replica hospital for old soldiers, ruined remains of a 14th century Blackfriars priory, a rose garden and restored 14th century preaching cross.

A unique feature of the Museum is a 13th/14th century skeleton, discovered during excavation of the museum in the early 1970s. For many years it was believed that the remains were of a knight, or monk from the Blackfriars monastery nearby. However, expert opinion during restoration in early 2007, suggested that the bones are female, probably of an important local patron.

The museum is open daily from 11am until 3pm. Visitors will be guided around the site by the curator John Wallin, (01432-174903) or the Custodian Bill Raymond (07807-564520).No charge will be made for guided tours, but donations will be gladly received.

Visitors are also encouraged to bring picnics which they can enjoy in the Rose Garden.  


After the Reformation in 1538, the position of the English knights became untenable, since it was a Catholic military order. This conflict was partly reconciled in1831 when the Grand Priory of St John was created in England. There are many interesting stories about the Knights of Malta, including the Great Siege of 1565, when 500 knights and their sergeants were sieged by a force of 30,000 Ottomans.  

The large display cabinet near the museum entrance was presented by the Knights of Malta and shows three historical stages in the history of the islands - first the arrival of St Paul in 66 AD, second the planning of Islands’ defences by the Knights against the Ottomans in 1565 and finally the defence of Malta in 1941/42 against the German forces.

After the Reformation the Medieval Chapel and Priory fell into ruin. In the early 17th century, the whole site was acquired by Sir Thomas Coningsby, the (then) owner of Hampton Court (Bodenham), who completed the restoration of the chapel and infirmary and built 12 alms houses,  using materials from the ruins.

Editor's weblink: Bizarre events in an old chapel

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 November 2012 18:47