A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
40. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. LEONARD, THRAPSTON
The existence of a lazar-house at Thrapston was unknown to Dugdale and Tanner, as well as to the county historians. The knowledge of it comes solely from the forest pleas and other forest documents of the Public Record Office. It was part of the old Norman forest law that an inquest should be held on any unauthorized slain deer or venison that might be found, and the flesh sent to the nearest hospital for lepers, a proof in itself of the common character of the disease, and of the multiplicity of lazar-houses.
On the morning of the Sunday after the Epiphany, 1246, one Maurice de Meht was passing through Sudborough with Sir Robert Passelewe, (fn. 1) justice of the forest, when he saw three men carrying a sack. Suspecting them, he followed with his bow stretched, when the men threw away the sack and fled. In the sack was a flayed doe and the snare with which it had been caught. Maurice went into the church of Sudborough and made known what had happened to the whole township. On the morrow an inquest was held before the verderers and foresters of Rockingham, with the result, inter alia, 'that the flesh of the doe was given to the lepers of Thrapston.' (fn. 2) Again, in 1248, four limbs of a deer were found in a ditch near Boughton by a forester, and as a result of the inquest all this venison was sent to the lepers of Thrapston. (fn. 3) In a third case, in 1305, when a freshly-killed deer was found by the roadside, pierced with two arrows, in the township of Wadenhoe, the flesh was sent 'to the lepers of St. Leonard's, Thrapston, being the nearest Spital.' (fn. 4)