A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1910.
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29. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. LEONARD, NEWARK
A leper hospital dedicated to the honour of St. Leonard was founded outside the walls of Newark by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln (1123-48). A copy of the charter of foundation is preserved in the Lincoln registry in an ancient book entitled Libellus de chartis Pensionum. (fn. 1)
A licence for alienation in mortmain was obtained in 1311 by William Durant of Newark, to grant to the master of the hospital of St. Leonard in that town two messuages and 20 acres of land in Newark, Balderton, and Hawton, to find a chaplain to celebrate daily in the church of the hospital in honour of the Blessed Virgin and for the souls of the grantor and Isabel his wife, Ivo his father, and all his ancestors. (fn. 2)
Protection was granted by Edward II in 1322 from 1 September until the following Easter for the master of the hospital of St. Leonard without Newark. (fn. 3)
The patronage of the hospital was in the hands of the Bishops of Lincoln; but in 1323 Edward II granted the mastership to William de Northwell, as the temporalities of that see were then in the king's hands. A writ de intendendo was directed to the brethren and sisters of the hospital. (fn. 4)
In 1347 John le Chaumbre, king's clerk, obtained a life grant of this wardenship from Edward III by reason of the voidance of the see of Lincoln. (fn. 5)
William de Askebi, warden of the hospital, was licensed by Pope Clement VI in 1349 to hold in conjunction with it the rectory of Elton and a prebend of Lincoln. An extension of this dispensation in 1351 enabled William to hold yet another benefice. (fn. 6)
On 30 January 1350 the notification of the estate of William son of Hugh de Scoter, as warden of the hospital of St. Leonard, Newark, by the collation of the Bishop of Lincoln, was entered on the Patent Rolls. (fn. 7)
On 14 June of the same year a licence was granted by John Gynwell, Bishop of Lincoln, to Thomas de Sibthorpe, rector of Beckingham, to give a messuage in Middlegate, Newark, held of the said bishop as of the hospital of St. Leonard extra Northgate, unto Robert de Arington, Robert Leef, and Robert de Stokam, perpetual chantry priests in the church of Newark, to pray for the souls of William Saucemer and Matilda his wife, of William de Glenham, of the said Thomas de Sibthorpe, and of Isabel Durant. This messuage was to serve as a residence for these chantry priests, saving to the hospital the accustomed rent and services. (fn. 8)
This foundation was further confirmed in 1417 by Philip Repingdon, Bishop of Lincoln, who decreed that there should be a master having rule of the hospital, and two poor men kept in the hospital with a chaplain to perform divine service, and that the chaplain and the two poor men were to be received into the hospital and maintained with the rents and profits of the same, the residue being devoted to the master's use, to the repair of the building and of the places belonging to it, and to the supporting of other charges. (fn. 9)
When the Valor Ecclesiasticus was drawn up in 1534 Christopher Massingbred was master, and the clear annual value was declared as £17 1s. 9½d. The chapel and manse of St. Leonard, with the close and certain parcels of meadow in the fields of Newark, were worth £6 19s. 11d. a year, a cowgate 16s. 6d., mills 40s., tenements and a grange in Newark £6 6s. 8d., rents in Newark £5 3s. 4d., and the remaining income from parcels of lands or rents in South Clifton, Girton, North Collingham, Cropwell, Cotham, Balderton, and Hawton. Out of this the chaplain and three poor men received £6 18s. a year. (fn. 10)
The annual value of this hospital was declared by the commissioners of Edward VI to be £17 10s. 9d., founded (i.e. refounded) by Philip, Bishop of Lincoln, for a priest to say divine service there and to find three poor bedesmen to serve God, and also to maintain hospitality. They found a chaplain in receipt of £5 a year, and £3 18s. distributed annually among the poor; the remaining income went to the master. They further declared that the hospital was a parish church of itself, having all sacraments and sacramentals therein ministered and observed. (fn. 11)
This was one of the hospitals that escaped destruction at the hands of Edward VI. This hospital of St. Leonard, usually called the Spittal, was leased to Sir Robert Constable, and hence passed to William Cecil, Earl of Exeter, who built there a goodly house; after his death this house with the surroundings was exchanged by Act of Parliament, 17 Charles I, with the hospital for lands of better value, and settled on his widow the Countess Dowager of Exeter and her heirs. The Act provided that the countess was, within three years, to build a house of brick or stone, roofed with tile or slate, consisting of eight rooms, viz. four low rooms and four chambers over them to receive the master, chaplain, and two poor men from in or near Newark, and to inclose an acre of ground with a brick or stone wall to serve as an orchard and garden. (fn. 12)
The St. Leonard's Hospital charity is now endowed with valuable property in Newark, Girton, Balderton, Claypole, and Elston, mostly let on unexpired leases. There are six almshouses in Northgate, erected in 1890, which accommodate four single men and two married couples; each inmate receives 10s. a week.
Masters of the Hospital of St. Leonard
William de Northwell, 1323 (fn. 13)
John le Chaumbre, 1347 (fn. 14)
William de Askebi, occurs 1349 (fn. 15)
William de Scoter, 1358 (fn. 16)
Christopher Massingbred, 1534 (fn. 17)