A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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45. THE HOSPITAL OF BECCLES
There was a leper hospital, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, on the south side of the town of Beccles, on a site now known as St. Mary's Hill. It was probably of early foundation, as was the case with almost all hospitals for this special affliction, but no record of it is found earlier than the year 1362, when Sir Richard Walkfare, kt., and others gave to the hospital 20s., annual rent issuing out of the manors of Barsham and Hirst. (fn. 1)
Tradition relates that one Ramp, who was very much afflicted with leprosy, was perfectly cured of his disorder by accidentally bathing in a spring of water near this plot, where he soon after created a hospital for the benefit of persons so afflicted. (fn. 2)
It was under the rule of a master, and possessed a chapel. Various wills of the locality include bequests to this house. In 1503 Thomas Leke of Beccles left 6s. 8d. to the repair of the lepers' chapel, and in 1506 John Rudham of Beccles bequeathed 12d. for a like purpose. John Bridges, a brother of the hospital, by will of 1567, left 20s. to Humphrey Trame, master, to be equally divided between the brethren and sisters. (fn. 3)
This hospital escaped suppression by either Henry VIII or Edward VI, as there seems to have been no kind of chantry endowment connected with it, it being, like many other leper hospitals, chiefly maintained by voluntary gifts. Edward VI in 1550 granted licence to Edward Lydgate, a brother of the hospital, to beg daily for the lazars' house of Beccles. (fn. 4)
By a deed dated 18 May, 1575,
between Humphreye Trame, master of the hospital of St. Mary Magdelin at Beccles, and the bretherne and systern of the said hospital on the one part, and Margaret Hury of Yoxford on the other part, it is witnessed, that the said Humfry and the brethren and systern, of their godly love and intent have not only takyn the sayd Margaret into the said hospytall beinge a sore diseased person wythe an horyble syckness, but also have admytted and made the seyd Margaret a syster of the same house during her naturall lyfe, accordinge to the auncyent custom and order of the same; trustynge in our Lord God, wythe the helpe and devocon of good dysposed people, to prepare for the same Margaret, mete, drink, clothinge, washinge, chamberinge, and lodginge, good and holsome, duringe the naturall lyff of the said Margaret, mete for such a person.
Humphrey Trame, by his will of 1596, gave
to the hospital
one bible, one service-book, and ye desk to them belonging, to go and remain for ever with the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, to the intent that the sick, then and there abiding, for the comfort of their souls may have continual recourse unto the same. (fn. 5)