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St John's Jerusalem, Sutton-at-Hone


St John's Jerusalem has a moated garden associated with the principal building, which was built by the Knights Hospitallers around 1200. The garden features mature trees and herbaceous borders.

St John's Jerusalem represents a small, green, quiet and historic oasis in the Thames-side urban fringe. The main features are the historic house and the moated garden. The previous tenant, Mrs Mallick, described the property as follows: ‘Approached from the village of Sutton at Hone down a short drive across a green meadow (cattle usually graze here) the house, a picturesque conglomeration of several periods, is seen across water and between the protective branches of a huge cedar of Lebanon and a copper beech tree. It is in fact set in a square moat, fed by the River Darent and lined by willows.'

There are few records of the garden and grounds. The moat dates from the 13th century but no other real features exist. The rectangle of land enclosed by the moat includes a walled flower and vegetable garden and an old hazel nuttery. There are grassed areas with miscellaneous trees of no great age, including a row of young horse chestnuts which look rather out of keeping in this medieval setting. There are a few depressions in the ground near the moat which may have been fish holding pools, but there is no historical evidence to support this. The house supports some climbing and wall shrubs including a vine, Magnolia grandiflora and a fig.

The willows which were a distinctive feature beside the moat were badly affected by 1987 storms. Many were uprooted or irreparably damaged, many more required pollarding to prevent future problems with overweight branches. Much tidying up has now been done, and tree surgery carried out. Willows, alder and sweet chestnut have been planted on the outer edge of the moat.

The moat dried up completely in 1976, and in 1988, whilst this section of the main River Darenth had been recently dredged, the moat itself was badly silted up and showed signs of pollution.

The car park and approach area has some fine trees, including cedars, horse chestnuts and walnuts. Most of the 1987 storm damage in this area was limited to the loss of some tree limbs, mostly on the horse chestnuts, and the fine cedar of Lebanon by the house. The cedar and the nearby large copper beech have received beneficial tree surgery since the storm, and both are in good health and retain their fine shape. The wooded area (mostly amenity value) to the east of the moat has suffered slightly worse storm damage.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01732 810378

Access contact details

The site is open to the public on Wednesday afternoons between April and October. Please see:


The site is three miles south of Dartford on the A225 in the River Darent Valley. Please see:


The National Trust

Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN2 2NA

The original house and chapel were built by the Knights Hospitallers of the order of St John of Jerusalem around 1200, using in their construction ready-cut stone and other materials from the nearby Roman villa (Lullingstone). This material is still visible in the walls.

In the early-17th century Abraham Hill (credited with the introduction of the cider industry to Kent), bought St John's Jerusalem and enlarged and altered the house and chapel. In 1755 the property was acquired by the eminent historian Edward Hasted who also modified the house. Perhaps due to excessive expenditure on the house, Hasted became bankrupt in 1796 and was imprisoned for five years for debt. Further alterations were made in Victorian times. In 1943 the then-owners Sir Stephen and Lady Tallents gave the property to the National Trust.

Features & Designations


  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The house was constructed by the Knights Hospitallers in around 1200 using stone from Lullingstone Roman villa. The house was restored and re-designed in the 18th century.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Moat
  • Description: The house is set in a square moat fed by the River Darent.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: Walled flower and vegetable garden.
  • Planting
  • Description: Hazel nuttery.
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: There is a mature cedar of Lebanon and a large copper beech near the house.
  • Gardens
  • Trees
  • Herbaceous Border
Key Information




Ornamental Garden

Principal Building






Open to the public


Civil Parish




  • Wright, Tom {The Gardens of Britain 4: Kent, East & West Sussex and Surrey}(London: Batsford, 1978)
  • Kent County Council Planning Department {The Kent Gardens Compendium} (Canterbury: Kent County Council, 1996) 149
  • Newman, J. {The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald} (London: Yale University Press, 1976)


  • Kent Gardens Trust