Hospitals: Westham

Pages 106-107

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

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The particulars of this hospital, which lay in the parish of Westham, and in the lowey, 'league,' or liberty of Pevensey, can best be given in the words of the sixteenth century English version of the Pevensey Custumal:— (fn. 1)

The Men of the Burgage of the Towne of Pevensey have an Hospital of Saynte John Baptiste, in the whiche been brothers or sisters, havynge londes and possessions within the Leege aforesaide, and the same Receyvour and the Men of the saide Burgage have the disposicion of the saide Hospitall, to graunte Corodye, as well to men as to women, as they may consente. And they have to visit and chaste after the quantitie. And one of the Men of the Burgage alway shalbe Overseer and Superior of that Hospitall, to oversee the expense, and the accompte of the Master of the saide Hospitall. Also the saide Receyvour and the Men may, yf there be to be hadde a Man or Woman of the saide Burgage, the whiche is come into povertie and have not whereof to lyve, and have borne him or her well by all his or her lyffe, that same Man or Woman in the forsaide Hospitall ther sustenances in the same shall take, nothing paying for the same.

Of its early history nothing is known, but casual references (fn. 2) to 'the hospital' show that some such house was in existence before the end of the thirteenth century. A Pevensey rental of 1292 (fn. 3) mentions ' the master of the hospital of the Holy Cross,' but no other reference to this establishment is known; it may have been the predecessor of the hospital of St. John the Baptist, of which 'the brethren' are mentioned in a rental of 1354. (fn. 4) About the middle of the fifteenth century William Slyhand left 40s. to the hospital of St. John in Westham, (fn. 5) and in 1489 Henry Dawson left 6s. 8d. to the same house. (fn. 6) After the Reformation the issues of the hospital were devoted to the support of almshouses, the distribution of food, and other charitable purposes. (fn. 7)


  • 1. Suss. Arch. Coll. xviii, 50.
  • 2. In Mins. Accts. passim.
  • 3. Rentals and Surv. (P.R.O.), No. 663.
  • 4. Ibid. No. 667.
  • 5. Early Chanc. Proc. bdle. 16, No. 679.
  • 6. Will in P.C.C. Milles, fol. 159.
  • 7. Rep. of Char. Com. 773.