St. John’s CommanderyPhoto: Ron Strutt

By Brian Wimsett, Alkham Newsletter Editor

In the 12th century the Knights Hospitaller, a medieval and early modern Catholic military order who were charged with caring for and protecting pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land lived at St. John’s Commandery near Swingfield.

Pilgrims from there walked to Alkham, and probably though Ellinge and along Slip Lane to what is now the Alkham Valley Road.

At that time, this was a river which they forded and then walked across a field which today is the Alkham village green and football pitch.

They would then follow the line of Short Lane to the Priest’s Walk which took them past Moseling’s Hole, a medieval chalk extraction pit near Mount Arafat Farm on Abbey Road, Dover and then onto St. Radigund’s Abbey.

However, in winter, when the river was swollen, pilgrims are thought to have used Pimlico Way to reach a shallower crossing point and continue along the road, now called Meggett Lane, to reach the abbey.

The remains of can still be seen at St Radigund’s Abbey holiday cottages on Abbey Road, Dover.

With the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century the commandery was converted into a farmhouse and is now administered by English Heritage which allows ‘by appointment’ visits to the historic building.

Story courtesy Alkham Newsletter

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