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History

The English hospitallers of St. Thomas of Acre was originally founded as a purely religious order in Acre in 1190, by King Richard the Lionheart, during the third crusade. It was devoted to Saint Thomas Becket, and retained an English character throughout its history. In 1228, the Bishop of Westminster, reorganized the order into a military monastic order on the model of the Teutonic Order. The habit was a white mantle bearing a red cross with a scallop shell. The order did not play a major military role, although all of it's knights present in in Acre 1291 fought valliantly to the last man. After the fall of Acre the Order retired to Cyprus. The Order also acquired lands in Sicily, southern Italy and Greece. Sometime in the 1370s the order moved its headquarters to its London house at the site of what is now Mercers hall – a house which was the birthplace of Thomas Becket. There it survived as a mainly hospital order until it was dissolved along with other orders in 1540.

Fall of Acre

Romantic 19th Century Impression of the Christian Defence of Acre in 1291.
Note the English knight fighting alongside knights of the Order of St. John.

It was revived in the early 18th century in Jacobite circles, and was one of several organizations active in promoting the Jacobite cause. It seems to have been under the protection of the exiled Stuarts in France. This revived order existed until the early 1900's.

The current Order claims no direct links with the original Crusader order or any revival, and is totally loyal to the current British Royal family.

The modern Order of St Thomas of Acre is the foremost authority on the original Order. Our historians are constantly working to unearth new facts about the original Order. Researchers are welcome to contact the Order for advice.

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