A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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44. THE HOSPITAL OF PLAYDEN
The hospital of St. Bartholomew in the parish of Playden, but more often called 'outside Rye,' seems to have been founded either by or under the auspices of the abbey of Fécamp. The earliest notice of it appears to be a notification by Simon the priest, and the brethren and sisters of the hospital that they had received from Ralf, abbot of Fécamp (1189-1219), the chapel, buildings, and lands of the hospital in perpetual alms, saving an annual payment of 2s. to the abbot and convent, who are to have the appointment of future priests upon the nomination of the officers of the town of Rye. (fn. 1) Further stipulations were made as to the abbey's share of the profits if Simon should succeed in obtaining a grant of a fair from the king, as he appears subsequently to have done; for, although no record of the grant is known a fair was long held on St. Bartholomew's Day at a spot outside Rye, in the immediate neighbourhood of the hospital. (fn. 2)
The Custumal of Rye (Sections 59, 60) gives some details of the administration of the hospital. (fn. 3) From it we learn that the nomination of the chaplain or warden lay with the mayor and jurats, who submitted his name to the abbot of Fécamp in time of peace, or to the lord chancellor if there was war with France, and they in turn presented him to the bishop of Chichester. The house was for both brothers and sisters, and the number of inmates was not fixed, but none might be received without the assent of the mayor and commonalty who, moreover, had the right of admitting thereto any— man or woman which had competently borne charges in their time for the welfare of the town, if they be now impoverished and impotent, decayed of their goods and chattels, and little goods have to live with.
The seal of the hospital was to be kept by the mayor and jurats so that the inmates should not alienate any property without their consent. This last clause seems to date from 1249, when the barons of Rye issued a charter to that effect. (fn. 4) From this charter of 1249 we learn that there were then twelve brethren and sisters resident, of whom some were lepers.
The warden in 1262 appears to have been hardly a suitable person to have the spiritual charge of the inmates, as he employed one Sybil of Yarmouth to set fire to the buildings and ricks of Mathew de Knoll at Beckley, and when she was arrested assisted her to escape, first to the hospital, where he kept her for a day and a night, and then to Playden church, where she abjured the realm. (fn. 5) Nor were some of his successors altogether satisfactory. As a result of a commission of inquiry issued in 1380 to William Horne and William de Battesford, (fn. 6) it was found that the master, Robert de Burton, had cut down timber to the value of £20 at Brookland, had wasted and appropriated to his own use grain to the value of £10, and had allowed the hospital lands to go out of cultivation. He had further carried off muniments, bills, and indulgences which brought in 40s. a year in oblations, and had given nothing to the inmates, so that they had to beg daily in the streets; and worst of all, the brazen vessels of the poor brethren had been seized for arrears of rent, so that they had no vessels in which to prepare their dinners. (fn. 7) Some sixty years later, in January, 1442, Bishop Praty visited the hospital and found that the master, William Parker, had been absent for six or seven years, the chapel and other buildings had fallen to ruins, and no paupers were maintained there. (fn. 8) Parker was deprived, (fn. 9) but how far the hospital recovered from its grievous state is not known. It was bestowed with the other lands of Fécamp Abbey upon the abbey of Syon in 1461, (fn. 10) and subsequently, in 1502, upon Westminster Abbey, soon after which date it had become decayed past remedy, so that in 1521 Bishop Sherborn allowed the abbey to appropriate it. (fn. 11)
Masters Of The Hospital Of Playden
Simon, occurs c. 1200 (fn. 12)
Robert, occurs 1262 (fn. 13)
John de Garlethorpe, occurs 1330 (fn. 14)
Randell de Wyke, appointed 1344 (fn. 17)
Robert de Burton, appointed 1379 (fn. 18)
John de Waldeby, appointed 1391, (fn. 19) died same year
Robert Longe, appointed 1391, (fn. 20) died 1392
Ralf de Repyngdon, appointed 1392, (fn. 21) resigned 1393
Thomas de la Chambre, appointed 1393 (fn. 22)
John Bowetby, appointed 1395 (fn. 23)
John Sharpe, appointed 1396 (fn. 24)
Thomas Brygge, appointed 1397 (fn. 25)
John Hoton, appointed 1399, (fn. 26) exchanged 1400
John Deye, appointed 1400 (fn. 27)
Robert Kyng, nominated 22 February, 1401 (fn. 28)
Joseph Scovill, appointed 1403 (fn. 31)
John Preston, appointed 1405, (fn. 32) resigned 1407
John Elmeton, appointed 1407 (fn. 33)
Nicholas Colnet, appointed 1413 (fn. 34)
Thomas Chase, appointed 1420 (fn. 35)
William Parker, appointed c. 1435, deprived 1442 (fn. 36)
John Faukes, appointed 1442 (fn. 37)
William Tracy, appointed 1461, (fn. 38) died 1478
John More, appointed 1478, (fn. 39) died 1479
Thomas Brent, appointed 1479 (fn. 40)