Hospitals: St James & St Denis, Southbroom

Page 362

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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The date of the foundation of this leper hospital is unknown. It has been said that it was founded by a bishop of Salisbury, (fn. 1) and it was indeed situated within the fee of the bishop, since it lay at Southbroom in the ancient parish of Bishop's Cannings.

King John, staying at Devizes in March 1208, granted to the lepers of Devizes a two-day fair at their house on the vigil and feast of St. Denis (8 and 9 Oct.), provided it did no harm to neighbouring fairs. (fn. 2) This fair seems to have been lost later in a fair granted in 1227 to the bishop to be held also at Southbroom on the vigil and feast of St. Denis and two following days. (fn. 3) In 1232 Henry III granted wood from Melksham Forest for the building of the lepers' chapel. (fn. 4) They had protection in 1231 and 1260, (fn. 5) and in 1336-8 for the purpose of collecting alms. (fn. 6) They then disappear from history, but a house near St. James's Church called until recently Spitalcroft, now The Croft, seems to preserve their memory.

Richard de Breton, 'hermit' of the hospital, is mentioned in 1337 and 1338, (fn. 7) when he was collecting alms for the house.


  • 1. R. M. Clay, Hospitals of Medieval Engl. 262, 328.
  • 2. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i, 105b.
  • 3. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 51.
  • 4. Close R. 1231–4, 43.
  • 5. Pat. R. 1225–32, 426; Cal. Pat. 1258–66, 93.
  • 6. Cal. Pat. 1334–8, 266, 404; 1338–40, 49.
  • 7. Ibid., 1334–8, 404; 1338–40, 49.