A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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33. THE HOSPITAL OF ST. NICHOLAS, SALISBURY
This hospital lies on the borders of Salisbury and Harnham, just south of Salisbury Cathedral close, by the Old Harnham or Ayleswade Bridge over the Avon. It was probably an original of Hiram's Hospital in The Warden, for in his Autobiography Trollope wrote of July 1852, 'It was then more than twelve months since I had stood for an hour on the little bridge in Salisbury, and had made out to my satisfaction the spot on which Hiram's Hospital should stand'. (fn. 1) Today, after existing for over 700 years, it still keeps something of its late medieval character, both in its buildings and in its constitution as an almshouse under the supervision of the Bishop of Salisbury. The interest of its history lies not only in its length, but in its many constitutional changes, none of which entirely rejected earlier statutes in cases when these are known. Materials for this history, however, are meagre. (fn. 2)
The origin of the hospital is unknown. It may have existed in Harnham in the late 12th or early 13th century before the cathedral and city of New Salisbury, or it may have been founded by Bishop Richard Poore (fn. 3) soon after the building of his new cathedral began in 1220, but these suggestions cannot be substantiated. (fn. 4) In 1227, however, two charters of Ela, Countess of Salisbury, and of Bishop Richard Poore show that there was then a hospital of St. Nicholas at Salisbury in the bishop's patronage, with a steward, endowments, a chapel, and the obligations of a chantry and of caring for the poor, sick, and travellers. (fn. 5) The endowments were the south close of Bentley Wood and the close of Buckley in West Dean parish given by the Countess Ela for the souls of her late husband, William Longespée, Earl of Salisbury, herself, and her family; and Wilsford church near Manningford Bohun, given by Bishop Poore for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the hospital's chapel for the souls of himself, his predecessors and successors, William Longespée, the Countess Ela, and the canons of Salisbury.
A few years later big changes in the hospital's work, responsibilities, constitution, patronage, and buildings began to be made by Bishop Robert Bingham, who succeeded Bishop Poore at Salisbury in 1229. These, when completed, were so extensive that Bishop Bingham described himself as founder of the hospital, (fn. 6) and as a result later writers have often assumed that he was its first founder. (fn. 7) One of his most important changes was to connect the hospital with a new or greater stone bridge which he had built over the Avon, (fn. 8) and with a chapel of St. John the Baptist on the bridge. Previously the flooding of the river at the ford by the hospital had often prevented men and horses from approaching the city from the south. (fn. 9) The river had at some time been divided artificially or naturally into two channels at this point. As a result an island was formed between the channels, known as St. John's Isle, from the chapel built on it by Bishop Bingham, and his bridge was a double one, joining the island to the north and south banks of the river. This work was of enormous importance to the growing city of New Salisbury, since it brought it in touch with the main roads and streams of traffic to the south. (fn. 10) In April 1245 the bishop appropriated Burstock church (Dors.), for the maintenance of his bridge, (fn. 11) and about the same time Henry de Wanda gave a small piece of land at Harnham to the fabric of bridge and chapel. (fn. 12) Meanwhile the hospital had been steadily accumulating new buildings and endowments. Probably an entirely new hospital was built near the site of the earlier one, for in 1231 and 1235 royal grants of timber were made to the warden 'for building the hospital', and in 1245 Bishop Bingham referred to the Old Hospital (Vetus Hospitale) towards the north. (fn. 13) In 1235-6 the master and brethren acquired a small piece of land at Oxenwood near Shalbourne; (fn. 14) in 1239 their income from Wilsford was increased by an annual pension of 30s. from the Earl of Hereford's manors of Wilsford and Manningford Bohun; (fn. 15) and, probably between 1237 and 1245, Richard FitzAucher gave them 10 acres in Fisherton Anger by Salisbury. (fn. 16) Bishop Bingham's so-called foundation charter of 14 October 1245 confirmed to the hospital, bridge, and chapel jointly the church and pension from Wilsford, Burstock church, the land at Fisherton Anger, an annual pension of 5 marks from Ansty church, and further property in and near Salisbury: 40 acres of the bishop's land round the hospital in Harnham and Salisbury with full rights over the tenants in both spiritual and temporal matters; a mansion by the 'Old Hospital'; rents from property in the city and from the mansion of Master Adam de Esseby, formerly cathedral chancellor; 10 marks a year from the bishop's mills in Salisbury, and 52s. a year from land at Stratford-sub-Castle. (fn. 17)
Bishop Bingham also issued two ordinances providing for the government of his three foundations, which give us our clearest picture of them in the 13th century. First, on 31 May 1244 he constituted the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury patrons of all three institutions, and they immediately appointed two wardens: their sub-dean to be warden of the hospital, and their succentor warden of the bridge and chapel. (fn. 18) Later, however, the bishop decided that both hospital and bridge must be under the same administration. In a much longer ordinance of 14 October 1245 (fn. 19) he confirmed the dean and chapter's patronage on condition that they appointed the same warden to the three institutions. He further declared that the purpose of the hospital was to receive, help, and maintain the poor of Christ, the weak and the sick (debilies et infirmi). The warden, a priest, was to receive all the revenues and to expend them on the stipends of the other priests, the care of the poor, and repairs of the bridge. He was to account to the dean and chapter and to be removable by them, especially if he did not repair the bridge. He was also to be the principal priest celebrating mass and singing the canonical hours daily in St. Nicholas Chapel by the hospital, though, on account of his administrative work and duties to the poor, he was excused from midnight matins. Under him were to be three other priests, appointed and removable by him. All four were to eat together in the hospital's refectory and to wear uniform russet cloaks when they went out. Two, serving in St. John's Chapel, were to sleep at an inn (hospicium) on the bridge, while the warden and the third chaplain were to sleep at the hospital. The masses and other services to be celebrated by them for the souls of Bishop Robert, the hospital's benefactors, the brethren and sisters, and any who died in the hospital were described in detail. The chaplain at the hospital was to visit the sick lying there; to give careful advice about their penitence and confessions; to be present at their exequies, and to bury them.
Most of the surviving medieval buildings of the hospital probably date from Bishop Bingham's episcopate. The hospital was apparently built in the form of a church, not, as was usual, with a nave and two aisles, but with two aisles only, or a double hall, divided down the centre by an arcade of seven arches, and opening into two chapels at the east end. The two chapels still stand, and the arcade of arches can be seen in the north wall of the present master's house, though the north aisle has disappeared. It has been suggested that the double hall, with its six bays, may have been intended to serve as a sick ward, with the arcade down the centre to separate the sexes, or alternatively that one of the aisles may have been parochial for the use of the tenants of the surrounding land. (fn. 20)
In the years following Bishop Bingham's death two further important pieces of property were acquired. The advowson of Broad Hinton church with 6 acres was given by Sir Richard of Hinton in 1258, in return for himself and his heirs being received to share in the spiritual benefits and prayers of the hospital, and appropriation of the church soon followed. (fn. 21) In 1256 about 50 acres at Gurston in Broad Chalke were acquired from John de Manningford, and other smaller purchases were made there about the same time. (fn. 22) By 1282 Gurston manor was held by the master of the hospital of the Abbess of Wilton by the service of 1 knight's fee. (fn. 23) The deeds connected with this property show that the brethren were clearly distinct from the chaplains, and were the members of the community most usually associated with the master in grants of land. They were said to serve God in the hospital, and so probably had to attend certain chapel services. It is, however, not clear if some brethren were sick; two deeds imply that they were; another that they were not. (fn. 24) There were also other sick, not brethren, whom the whole brethren and sisters may have nursed, and still others, presumably the poor and travellers, staying in the hospital. (fn. 25)
The next important constitutional change, during Bishop Bridport's episcopate (1258-62), affected both the hospital's patronage and the title of its head. A settlement of 1260 awarded the hospital's custody and advowson to the bishop and his successors, while the dean and chapter were to have in it one brother, nominated by them, whom they were to present to the bishop for admission on the death of their previous brother. In a vacancy of the see, the hospital's custody and the right to institute the prior and brethren was to be in their hands. (fn. 26) This use of the title prior occurs first in two deeds of about 1259; several other examples have been noticed between 1266 and 1281; in 1266 and 1268 a prior is named; and in 1269 the community at the hospital is described as the 'religious men, the prior and brethren' (religiosi viri, prior et fratres). (fn. 27) This must mean that they were bound to observe a definite rule, probably the Augustinian rule, which was often observed at medieval hospitals. Quite possibly the change of patronage was connected with Bishop Bridport's foundation of de Vaux College near the hospital in 1262, for he apparently gave the patronage of his new college to the dean and chapter in exchange for their surrender to him of the hospital's patronage. (fn. 28) There is, however, no evidence for the further assumption (fn. 29) that both de Vaux and St. Edmund's collegiate church, founded by Bishop Walter de la Wyle in 1269, were offshoots or daughter houses of the hospital, though the foundation of both these colleges seems to have affected the hospital's endowments. De Vaux College may have been built on part of the land given to the hospital by Bishop Bingham; (fn. 30) while the foundation charter of St. Edmund's rearranged parish boundaries within Salisbury city, transferring to St. Martin's parochial rights over certain tenants who had previously been parishioners of St. Nicholas, and to St. Edmund's the revenues of other parts of the hospital's parish. (fn. 31) This marked the end of St. Nicholas's parish, which was apparently created by Bishop Bingham in 1245. (fn. 32)
Henceforth, except for short periods, the bishop retained the patronage permanently; the title of prior, however, does not seem to be used after 1281. (fn. 33) Thenceforth the heads are called masters or wardens, a title which indeed is also found in 1262-4, (fn. 34) and their holders are clearly seculars. (fn. 35) It is not known when the rule, if ever fully introduced, ceased to be observed. In 1260 the brethren seem to have been admitted for life and until the end of the century lands and privileges were usually granted to them collectively, with or without the prior or master. (fn. 36) The sisters are not mentioned in the fine of 1260, but appear in grants assignable to the last twenty years of the 13th century and in episcopal mandates of 1300 and 1305. (fn. 37) The sick were still being received about 1262, when rent from a tenement in Winchester Street, Salisbury, was given to the hospital to keep a lamp burning before the sick, and in about 1280, when Alice of Britford gave another house in Salisbury to the brethren, sisters, and sick in the hospital. (fn. 38)
Several further small gifts of property in Salisbury were received about this time. By the end of the century the hospital was drawing rent from at least seven tenements in the city. (fn. 39) Its holdings at Fisherton Anger, Broad Hinton, Gurston, and Broad Chalke were also increased; (fn. 40) at Harnham and Homington, probably towards the end of the 13th or in the early 14th century, £114 6s. 8d. was spent on buying land from Robert de Wanda, clerk; (fn. 41) and in 1349 John of Harnham gave further land in West Harnham to maintain his chantry chapel in St. George's Church there. (fn. 42) In Dorset Prior Adam in 1266 exchanged Burstock church on the borders of Devon for Turnworth church, which was much nearer the hospital; a small piece of land at Sturminster Marshall near Turnworth was probably acquired about the same time; by 1302 the hospital was receiving rent from Corfe Mullen in Sturminster Marshall, and by 1399 held a knight's fee at Thorncombe near its original holding of Burstock. (fn. 43) These two last manors of Corfe Mullen and Thorncombe were probably acquired before 1279, as no licences to alienate them in mortmain to the hospital have been discovered. Both are included in an undated rent roll of the hospital, (fn. 44) which Canon Wordsworth assigned to the 15th century, but which may have been written earlier. (fn. 45)
This rental, whether its date is in the 14th or 15th century, is useful in giving a fairly complete account of the hospital's property between Bishop Bingham's charter of 1245 and the more detailed accounts of the 16th century. No additions to the property already traced are in it, but the omission of payments from the bishop's mill in Salisbury, from Stratford-sub-Castle, from Master Adam de Esseby's house, and from Oxenwood (fn. 46) suggest that these, which are not mentioned in later accounts, had been lost, sold, or exchanged. The holdings in Bentley Wood given by the Countess Ela in 1227, however, though not mentioned in Bishop Bingham's charter or in the rental, were clearly held by the hospital under the names of Howe Farm and Wood or Winterslow manor in West Dean throughout the 13th and 14th centuries and later. (fn. 47) Probably they were omitted from the rental because they were being managed directly from the hospital and therefore paid no rent. This was certainly so later. (fn. 48) Little more is known of the management of the hospital's property in the Middle Ages. In 1340 there is a suggestion that some land at Harnham was also under direct management in an agreement that the warden and brethren were to have pasture for 24 pigs and free entry and exit from the hospital to the fields of East Harnham. (fn. 49) Under the prior's rule the hospital apparently undertook the collection of all the tithes from Wilsford and Manningford Bohun. (fn. 50) The rental shows that neither Corfe Mullen nor Gurston manors were farmed. At Corfe Mullen the hospital had about 34 tenants, mostly holders in villeinage, paying rents in place of labour services; at Gurston about 16 tenants, one holding by knight service, a number in villeinage, and 4 as cottars. (fn. 51) Farming of the property at Sturminster Marshall and of Turnworth rectory, however, began in the 13th century. (fn. 52) In 1314 Bishop Ghent augmented the Vicar of Turnworth's stipend, and ordered the hospital to be compelled to pay it. (fn. 53)
No general total of the hospital's income can be obtained from the rental, but it was clearly not the 'rich institution', on which 'land had literally been showered, . . . unquestionably more wealthy in land than De Vaux College', which Canon Moberly has described. (fn. 54) Probably the incomes of college and hospital were more nearly equal in the late 13th century than they were in the second quarter of the 16th century, (fn. 55) for, while the college in the 14th and 15th centuries conserved and added to its estates, the hospital lost some of its early endowments, and is not known to have acquired any further property in the Middle Ages after 1349. Yet even about 1300, when the value of their property was greatest, it would be a startling exaggeration to describe either hospital or college as a rich institution. In the later Middle Ages the hospital was several times exempted from the payment of tenths on account of its poverty. (fn. 56)
The hospital's history in this period seems to provide a particularly good example of the development by which many smaller hospitals were forced by increasing poverty to limit their work to fit their resources. Their poverty was generally caused by the falling value of rents, and the maladministration of non-resident masters. The limitation or specialization of their work usually left them either as chantries supporting two or three chaplains, or as almshouses for a limited number of poor. (fn. 57) In 1478 statutes of Bishop Beauchamp show that St. Nicholas's Hospital had become an almshouse. Most historians have supposed that this change was introduced by Bishop Beauchamp, (fn. 58) but a few meagre pieces of evidence suggest that it took place earlier.
The hospital's history from about 1300 to 1478 is very obscure. Of the masters little is known except their names and the dates of their institutions. In the early 14th century they were apparently fairly humble clergy: vicars or rectors of Wiltshire parishes, and a vicar choral at the cathedral. (fn. 59) Later they were often canons of Salisbury. (fn. 60) Most were probably non-resident, for they held other benefices; (fn. 61) but, since they were often local clergy, the hospital may not have been neglected by them to the same extent as some richer hospitals, which went to distant royal clerks. Yet the fact that no further property is known to have been bought after the first half of the 14th century probably means either that the revenues had fallen, through maladministration or economic conditions, to an amount barely sufficient for immediate needs, or that the masters were themselves taking all the available surplus. Moreover, although the masters still took an oath on admission to repair the bridge, (fn. 62) it was so broken and ruinous in 1413 that pontage for seven years was granted by royal writ for its repair. (fn. 63)
Of the inmates during this period only a few scattered notices have been found. In 1319 Bishop Mortival ordered the chaplains to be urged and, if necessary, compelled to be present in cathedral processions with the chaplains of St. Edmund's College and the scholars of De Vaux as had been customary. (fn. 64) In the same year a judicial inquiry, following a papal provision of a priest, Thomas More, as a fellow and brother among the sick and infirm or poor, suggests that priests could be admitted not only as chaplains but as brethren. Moreover, both sides (i.e. the master and brethren, and Thomas More) agreed that admission of brethren and sisters belonged to the bishop. (fn. 65) This may mean that they still had religious or nursing duties, for after the hospital became an almshouse admission belonged to the master. In 1361 the only known institution of a sister, Laurentia de Bohun, by the bishop on presentation of the warden and brethren, occurs in the bishop's register of institutions. (fn. 66) In 1381 three priests at the hospital were assessed to pay poll tax at the rate of 3s. 4d. each. (fn. 67) One, however, Edward Fox, may have been the same as Edward Fox, warden in 1365, who, in 1368, on account of bodily infirmity, was given as coadjutor the rector of the nearby church of Fisherton. (fn. 68) Possibly, therefore, the chaplains were now reduced to two, and the place of the third was taken by the retired warden. This suggests a way in which the hospital may gradually have become an almshouse by providing for members of its staff when they became too old or ill to work. Three more wardens are known to have been given pensions in the 15th century; one, John Lawsell, was allowed to live in the hospital, receiving an annual robe, food, and clothing. (fn. 69) Records of visitations of the hospital by Archbishop Courtenay in 1390 and by Bishop Waltham in 1394 reveal nothing of conditions in the hospital. (fn. 70) The chaplains, however, are mentioned in 1406; in 1432, when one of them inducted a new warden, and in 1425, when Bishop Chaundler left them 6d. each in his will. (fn. 71) At the same time he left 4d. each to the sick lying (decubantes) in the hospital. (fn. 72) This is the only reference found to the sick since 1319. By this time, however, it may refer only to aged brethren and sisters confined to bed.
In 1442 clear evidence that St. Nicholas was an almshouse occurs in the dean and chapter's act book as a result of a dispute over the patronage. In 1440 the dean and chapter made a determined effort to regain the patronage they had lost in 1260, and for a time were successful. They persuaded the warden, Thomas Marchall, to renounce a papal bull contrary to the original foundation, and to resign. (fn. 73) They then collated and instituted their own nominee as sub-warden, keeping the wardenship for themselves, and, for the following two years, business concerning the hospital is entered in their act book. (fn. 74) On 8 January 1442, as wardens, they granted a vacant place in the hospital to Agnes Rymer, who was old and unable to work, and ordered their sub-warden to admit her as a sister. (fn. 75) In the following September they lost the patronage to the bishop, who appointed Nicholas Upton, Precentor of Salisbury, as warden, (fn. 76) and nothing more is known of conditions in the hospital until Bishop Beauchamp's statutes of 1478.
These statutes are short, and read more like visitation injunctions than ordinances for a new constitution. (fn. 77) The brethren and sisters, who were probably now limited to twelve, (fn. 78) were to be given commons in money of 7s. 6d. a week between them or 7½d. each, with sixteen wagon loads of wood yearly from the Howe Wood, and one wagon load of coal. A suggestion that these commons were not very adequate may perhaps be seen in the injunction that they were on no account to beg in the streets and parishes. (fn. 79) Other indications of an effort to economize are rules restricting hospitality to benefactors and demanding a property qualification for admission. The master was directed to take charge of the property which new brethren and sisters must bring with them, and to see that their clothes and other necessaries were provided from it. He also had to provide them with a barber, laundress, and necessary utensils. He was still to sing or say the canonical hours daily, if present, or, if legitimately prevented, to provide a substitute; and was to punish the faults of the brethren and sisters. Their most usual faults were apparently quarrelling, and living together in one room when unmarried. Couples already married before admission might share a room.
The provision of separate rooms for the inmates must have caused changes in the hospital's buildings. Edmund Hickman, its chaplain and historian, writing in 1713, maintained that extensive structural alterations were made about 1498, (fn. 80) some of which are visible in the present buildings. The north aisle of the double hall was at some time removed, leaving the central arcade of arches visible in the present north wall. (fn. 81) This removal may have been part of a plan to limit the hospital's commitments. Hickman says that the south aisle was converted into six rooms for the brethren and sisters; the north chapel became a common hall; further rooms, including those for the master and chaplain, were built over the south aisle, while others may have been found in a block to the north. The south chapel of St. Nicholas was consecrated in 1501; (fn. 82) a fact which may indicate that rebuilding operations were then completed. But other alterations dictated by the change from a hospital into an almshouse may well have taken place earlier.
Between 1501 and 1534 the first register of admissions (fn. 83) gives the names and occasionally the places of origin of 14 brethren and 17 sisters. Two were from Salisbury, and one each from West Harnham, 'Combe', Fordingbridge (Hants), and Breamore (Hants). Several sisters were widows, one being the mother of William Tewker, the hospital's chaplain. There were seven cases of husband and wife being admitted together, a practice which continued until the early 17th century, when it caused difficulties. In 1605 'Newton and his wyfe' were 'admonished for brawling at board, and throwing bones before all the company'; (fn. 84) and in 1626 the Earl of Pembroke as patron ordered the master that 'since some married people have proved both burthensome and troublesome to the house . . . I do . . . requere you not to admit any married men or married women . . . hereafter upon no terms'. (fn. 85) A pre-Reformation form of admission with marginal alterations made probably in the Reformation period (fn. 86) throws light on the continuing ecclesiastical character of the institution. Admission took place in chapel, where an oath was first administered by the master in English. The new inmate swore obedience to the master; promised to keep the secrets of the house; to administer the hospital's property faithfully should he ever have charge of it; to tell the master if he heard of it being stolen; to be chaste (altered to 'sober and honest'); to keep the peace and do his duty, and to attend services daily in chapel. The master then told him in Latin to promise to God and St. Nicholas (St. Nicholas was later crossed out) himself and all his goods, and to the house continuous service. Psalms and prayers followed, and he was kissed by all the brethren. Another form for admission into confraternity was used for benefactors who gave property to the hospital in return for a share in its prayers and suffrages. (fn. 87) These were probably the people described in Bishop Beauchamp's statutes, who, alone of outsiders, might be given hospitality in the house.
The period of the Reformation presents many problems in the hospital's history. First there is confusion over the masters. Between 1498 and 1593 no institutions of masters appear in the calendar of institutions made from the bishops' registers. Canon Moberly suggested that at first this was because the dean and chapter again raised the question of the patronage in 1496 and perhaps appointed between 1498 and 1501. (fn. 88) This cannot be proved because their act book for the period is lost, but it is known that William de Wilton, a clerk and later chancellor of the cathedral, was warden and often present at the hospital between 1501 and 1525. (fn. 89) After this there is a tradition that a succession of six or seven lay masters ruled the hospital until nearly the end of the 16th century. (fn. 90) Three of these supposedly lay masters, however, were clerks, two holding cathedral dignities; (fn. 91) while a fourth, Sir Thomas Wroughton, was apparently not warden, but farmer of the hospital's church of Broad Hinton. (fn. 92) The remaining two were Sir Richard Long, warden in 1540, (fn. 93) and the important Henry Herbert, who is surprisingly described as a clerk when he compounded for the hospital's first fruits in October 1550. (fn. 94) He was then probably about eleven years old, (fn. 95) so the description may mean only that he was a scholar or boy of school age; or possibly he had been ordained an acolyte before it was known that he would succeed to an earldom. From 1551 he was styled Lord Herbert and in 1570 he became Earl of Pembroke. It is not known when he resigned the wardenship, (fn. 96) but no other warden has been traced until 1586, when Master Richard Dotshon was instituted by the bishop. (fn. 97) Finally, in 1593 the position becomes clear when Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, presented Master Geoffrey Bigge, priest, for institution as warden. (fn. 98) Presumably he or his father had leased the patronage from the bishop, as his son was later to lease it from Bishop Cotton.
The hospital owed much to the power of the earls of Pembroke in the 16th and early 17th centuries. It may also have had other friends among the local gentry who helped to 'conceal' it at the time of the dissolution of the chantries and colleges. The first suggestion of preparation for concealment was about 1535 when a return for St. Nicholas was omitted from the first certificates sent by the commissioners for Wiltshire for the Valor Ecclesiasticus. A return was eventually made by a special commission in 1541, which gave no details of the hospital's income, but estimated it simply at £25 2s. 2d. a year. (fn. 99) This, however, was apparently a slight under-estimate of the master's portion only, after all other payments to the inmates had been met. Much fuller evidence is available in two hospital accounts for 1525-6 and 1541, and a chantry certificate of 1546. (fn. 100) These give the gross annual receipts from rents as about £68, and the net income as about £59, while there might also be further uncertain profits from the sale of wood and swans, and from fines. The hospital's property had changed little since the 14th- or 15th-century rental, though some holdings in Salisbury city had been lost, (fn. 101) and Turnworth church now paid only an annual pension of £1. (fn. 102) Most of the more distant property was farmed, except Howe Wood, which was kept for fuel, and Corfe Mullen, where separate small rents were still received from about twelve copyhold and customary tenants. The most valuable farm was £15 a year from Broad Hinton church. This may represent an increase, for after 1478 the wardens or farmers presented to the church, whereas before the bishop had collated. (fn. 103) The twelve poor still received 7s. 6d. a week or £19 a year; the felling and carriage of their sixteen wagon loads of wood and one of coal cost £1 10s. 4d.; their ale on St. Nicholas's Day and Christmas Day 3s. One or two chaplains had between £2 3s. 4d. and £6 13s. 4d. a year each; (fn. 104) the barber and laundress had 12s. between them; the steward £4; and about £11 was spent on repairs in 1525-6, thus leaving about £27 for the master. Among pensions paid in 1541 and 1546 were £2 a year for life for counsel to Charles Bulkeley, esquire, one of the commissioners who made the remarkably low return of the hospital's income for the Valor.
It is tempting to suppose that St. John's Chapel ceased to be a chantry about this time, as part of an effort to save the hospital from dissolution with the chantries. By 1525-6 there was only one chaplain at the hospital, and the second mentioned in 1541 may have been only a deputy for an absent master, probably Sir Richard Long. The first chantry certificate of 1546 declared it an abuse that only one chaplain was maintained, when the founder had provided for three. (fn. 105) By the time of the second certificate of 1548 both wardenship and chaplaincy were either genuinely vacant or 'concealed', for it was stated, 'at present is nither Master nor preeste, but 12 poore persons only, as is reported'. (fn. 106) The hospital escaped dissolution under Edward VI.
Elizabeth's reign was still a dangerous period. Little is known of Lord Herbert's administration, save that he removed many of the hospital's records to Wilton House, where they were subsequently lost. In the early 17th century the then master, Geoffrey Bigge, defended his memory from attack by saying that he had given as good treatment to the poor and tenants as was formerly done, and his only fault was that he was not a priest. (fn. 107) The chief advantage of his rule for the hospital, however, was that he was too powerful to be disturbed by informers who were reporting lands of religious houses and chantries concealed from the Crown during the Dissolution, usually in the hope of acquiring them for themselves. Sometime before 1590 information was evidently given against St. Nicholas Hospital as a chantry chapel, for in 1590 and 1592 William Tipper and Robert Dawe, gentlemen, of London, obtained royal grants of its lands in Wiltshire; of the chapel or hospital with all its lands; and finally of its lands in Dorset. (fn. 108) But they apparently did not gain possession and later made over their right to Nicholas Geffe of London. By this time the energetic and resourceful Geoffrey Bigge was master. In 1593, 1601, and 1606 a succession of visitations of the hospital took place by commissaries of the queen and archbishop, to all of whom Bigge presented his accounts, stressing his disbursements to the poor. (fn. 109) He then decided that he was strong enough to act. In 1609 he wrote to the Earl of Pembroke that 'our counsel thinks that his [Nicholas Geffe's] title to your lordship's hospital is weak, and advises to crave confirmation of the state of the hospital from the king's Majesty. . . . The profit of it . . . is small, but the prayers to God for your honour are many. It hath stood about four hundred years; my government and cost upon the house have been such as the strictest visitors have ever approved'. (fn. 110) As a result the earl obtained a lease of the patronage for 41 years from Bishop Cotton, and Bigge paid £105 to the lawyer acting for Geffe, Tipper, and Dawe, on which they promised to convey their right to the hospital to the earl. (fn. 111) Bigge also approached the Earl of Northampton and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and petitioned the king for a new charter confirming the hospital's lands. (fn. 112) Finally, after he had spent more than £192 on the business, (fn. 113) his efforts were rewarded by the issue on 3 April 1610 of the new foundation charter of James I.
This charter (fn. 114) re-established the hospital as an almshouse for a master or warden, a chaplain, six poor men and six poor women, who were to form a corporation. All the previous members were reappointed. In future, when the mastership became vacant, the Earl of Pembroke was to appoint during the 40 years from 1610 to 1650, and afterwards the Bishop of Salisbury; in a vacancy of the see the dean and chapter might present and institute. The master was to be a clerk and hold office for life unless removed by the patron. One brother was still to be nominated by the dean and chapter according to the fine of 1260. The other five brethren and six sisters were to be nominated for life by the master. The chaplain was also appointed by the master, but held his office from year to year during the master's pleasure. The statutes of Bishop Bingham and Bishop Beauchamp were confirmed in so far as they were not contrary to the laws of England or the present charter. They might, however, be revised, and new statutes might be made by the patron with the Archbishop of Canterbury's help. Finally, the hospital's property was specified and confirmed; the hospital itself with its two gardens, three orchards, and two pasture closes; St. John's Chapel; another tenement near by; St. Nicholas's Farm in Salisbury, Harnham, and Homington; a meadow close to the east; a pasture close in Britford; a garden in Bugmore, Salisbury; two tenements in New Street and Brown Street; Buckett's Mead, St. Nicholas's gardens, and two pasture closes in Fisherton Anger; a piece of meadow in Stratford; Howe Farm and Wood; the rectories of Wilsford, Broad Hinton, and Turnworth; the annual pension from Ansty church; the manors of Gurston, Corfe Mullen, and Thorncombe. Except for the actual site of the hospital, all the property was now farmed or leased, including St. John's Chapel. The hospital had evidently preserved its property practically intact through the Reformation, its only loss since the rental of 1525-6 being the small piece of land at Sturminster Marshall, its only gain a piece of meadow at Stratford.
Bigge apparently lived at the hospital with his wife and two daughters. (fn. 115) He claimed that in 7 years alone he spent £500 on it, and in his time a further £180 on repairs, utensils, journeying about the lands, and extraordinary relief of the poor, over and above the ordinary allowances. (fn. 116) He protested against violation of the hospital's rights by inclosures and felling of timber in Howe Wood; kept careful accounts of his right to tithe swans bred on St. Nicholas's ground; made a number of structural alterations and additions to the hospital's buildings; and ditched and paled an orchard (formerly the litten or churchyard), which he leased, reserving to the hospital's inmates a plot by the water to wash and dry clothes. (fn. 117) He also continued, with some help from others, to repair the bridge, to the embarrassment of his successors, who claimed that the obligation had come to an end when the hospital ceased to receive offerings from the chapel. They attempted to explain away his action by saying that he had merely had a few loads of useless stones deposited on the bridge. (fn. 118) In Bigge's time the hospital's rents rose to £75 2s. 2d. a year gross, or £65 2s. net, (fn. 119) and, doubtless, fines for renewals of leases, which were not recorded, were also increasing in value. The greater part of the increased rent went to the brethren and sisters, whose commons were now £28 12s. a year in place of £19, and who were also given other payments from wheat, sealings of leases, the property of deceased brethren, and in faggots, stock, ale, wine, sugar, feasts, and Easter offerings, estimated at a further £20 15s. 6d. between them, so each now had about £4 2s. 3d. a year or 1s. 7d. a week. (fn. 120) The chaplain, however, continued to have only £4 a year; the woman servant and barber had 6s. 8d. each, and the master's portion was about £25 to £30. (fn. 121) Two brethren were expelled by Bigge for fighting, theft, disobedience, drunkenness, or swearing, and several more were admonished. (fn. 122) A description survives from his rule of a great annual dinner on St. Nicholas's Day to which 'the Earl of Pembroke, the Bishop of Salisbury and other gentlemen were invited, who generally gave money to the poorer people . . . and the Earl, if not here himself, always sent them a guinea, and oftentimes venison besides . . . and once, when two Cooks out of the town were dressing their great dinner here in the kitchen, the floods were so great that the water rose, and put out all their fire'. (fn. 123)
The earl, who died in 1630, the same year as Geoffrey Bigge, had granted the next presentation to the wardenship to John Nicholas, of Winterbourne Earls, who presented his son Matthew, (fn. 124) a non-resident canon of Salisbury. Matthew was at first glad of an opportunity to live in Salisbury at the hospital, 'for the education of my boys'. (fn. 125) But in 1637 he was elected to a residentiary canonry, and from this time ruled the hospital either from his house in the cathedral close or from the deanery at Bristol, which he obtained in 1639. (fn. 126) The chief incidents of the first part of his wardenship were two lawsuits. In the first, from 1635-40, he successfully resisted an order at the Wiltshire assizes for the hospital to repair the bridge. (fn. 127) In the second in 1639 the hospital's claim to Turnworth Rectory was finally lost and the annual pension of £1 from the greater tithes passed to the Vicar of Turnworth. (fn. 128)
During the civil wars and the Commonwealth the hospital was in no danger of dissolution, but, with the abolition of bishops, deans, and chapters, three secular authorities—Parliament, county, and city—competed for its control. Masters were apparently appointed both by Parliament and the county, (fn. 129) but in 1647 Parliament's nominee, Francis Rivett, of King's Somborne (Hants) seems to have gained possession. It was to him that Matthew Nicholas handed over the hospital's money and muniments, (fn. 130) and he successfully continued Matthew's policy of refusing to pay for repairs of the bridge. (fn. 131) Then, in 1656, Cromwell, in his new charter to Salisbury city, incorporated the hospital within the area of its jurisdiction, and gave the patronage to the mayor and aldermen. (fn. 132) This led to drastic though temporary constitutional changes. The masters, who were now usually former mayors of Salisbury, (fn. 133) received a fixed stipend, and all surplus revenue was assigned to relieve the city's poor. (fn. 134) After Cromwell's death the city made determined efforts to keep the hospital. (fn. 135) However, with the king's return in 1660, Parliament ordered its restoration to Matthew Nicholas. (fn. 136)
With the Restoration the hospital entered on a long period of constitutional stability and economic prosperity. The charter of 1610 again came into force, and the patronage was finally restored to the bishop. During the last 300 years he has nearly always appointed as wardens clergy who were either already canons or dignitaries of his cathedral or later became so. (fn. 137) Many wardens of this period were also bishops' kinsmen or personal friends. The list of fifteen includes four sons, two brothers, and one grandson of bishops of Salisbury. (fn. 138) In three cases a son succeeded his father as warden. (fn. 139)
The first of these was John Nicholas, who succeeded his father Matthew in 1662 at the age of 23, and ruled for nearly 50 years. Like most of his successors, he was non-resident, living until 1679 chiefly at Oxford, where he was fellow and later warden of New College, and afterwards until his death in 1711 at Winchester as warden of the college there. (fn. 140) The register of admissions, which is now resumed, (fn. 141) shows that there was no further attempt to restrict places in the hospital to the city's poor. The majority of the inmates were still drawn from Salisbury and its immediate neighbourhood, but others came from many other parishes in Wiltshire and Dorset, particularly Winterbourne Earls, the home parish of the Nicholas family; (fn. 142) several were from places outside the diocese in Hampshire, and a few from as far as Somerset and Gloucestershire. The allowance for commons of the twelve poor and the nurse was raised by Nicholas from 12s. to £1 a week between them. (fn. 143) They also had another £8 a year between them with a livery once in 2 years, and annual allowances of wheat, wood, and coals. (fn. 144) The chaplain had two rooms, £5 a year, and two loads of wood; the servant or laundress, woodward, and barber 6s. 8d. each, with a load of wood for the woodward, and a room, wheat, and the privilege of drawing beer and ale to the household for the servant. (fn. 145) The most difficult piece of information to discover is the master's portion. Most of the rents, which rose from about £92 in the early part of John Nicholas's wardenship to about £106 to £126 in 1711-12, (fn. 146) went in increased payments to the inmates. The master, however, kept certain small rents, the profits of timber cut in Howe Wood, and all the fines, from which repairs to property and lawsuits also had to be met. (fn. 147) At a visitation in 1677 Nicholas agreed that most leases had been renewed since the Restoration, but by what fines he could not tell, since no register of them had been kept. (fn. 148) He maintained, however, that his place was worth less than £30 a year. (fn. 149) His statements in 1670 and 1677 that he had kept the chapel, house, and master's lodging in very good repair, and spent much money on them, are borne out by Hickman, the chaplain. (fn. 150) In 1675 Nicholas made the first gift of land to the hospital which has been traced since the 14th century. This was Gorges Mead at Milford near Salisbury, from which the brethren and sisters were to have nearly all the rent. (fn. 151) In addition he gave them £21 9s. a year to buy beer, and left them another £150 at his death. (fn. 152) Under his rule the house seems to have been fairly well ordered. His answers to Bishop Ward's visitation articles of 1670 and 1677 declared that he knew of no disorders or any irregular selling of beer or ale, swearing or incontinency, 'save that Ruth Eustace has frequently disturbed the brethren and sisters by raileings and revillings, and has been several times admonished to amend'. (fn. 153) Divine service was performed in chapel on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and was attended by the brethren and sisters. (fn. 154) The custom of the brethren and sisters of 'sitting at table with each a pot of drink and a halfpenny loaf and a great candle burning before them' on All Hallows Eve, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, Twelfth Night, and Candlemas Eve was put down by his order in 1706. (fn. 155)
For the 18th century few records of the hospital have survived except some for its property. (fn. 156) These show that little change took place either in rents or expenditure, while the value of fines steadily increased. Old South Sea Stock worth £350 is thought to have been given about 1770 by someone with a relation at the hospital. (fn. 157) Then, in 1796, the foundation of the Barrington Trust Fund formed the most important gift to the hospital since Bishop Bingham's time. Edward Emily, warden from 1786 to 1792, left his property without conditions to his friend Bishop Barrington. (fn. 158) The bishop, knowing that Emily had thought of making some benefaction to the hospital's poor, sold his estate and gave the proceeds to trustees for the hospital. By a deed of 1796 (fn. 159) he laid down that the largest part of the income was to go in weekly payments of 4s. each to the brethren and sisters, which more than trebled their allowance of commons. In addition they were to have a chaldron of coals each year, a new fuel house, and annual payments for clothing. A further £42 a year was set aside for the chapel services, and went in practice to augment the chaplain's stipend. The remainder, if any, was to be used for educating and apprenticing poor children, preference being given to the children or grandchildren of the brethren and sisters. Some early accounts (fn. 160) show that the fund brought in a steady £240 a year (i.e. more than double the hospital's annual income from rents at that time), and there was soon a fairly large balance. Between 1798 and 1819 some poor children were apprenticed, but in 1819 Bishop Barrington decided that in future the whole balance should be allowed to accumulate for investment, so that larger dividends might eventually be paid to the inmates. (fn. 161) In 1825 £12 a year (later increased to £20) was set aside for medical aid for them. (fn. 162)
In 1834 the first report of the Charity Commissioners made two main criticisms of the hospital's administration. First, allowances to the brethren and sisters (excluding their payments from the Barrington Fund) were found to be nearly the same as in 1713, whereas the fines, which went to the master for his own use and for repairs, had greatly increased. These were now estimated to bring in an average yearly income of about £200, as against £108 from the reserved rents. The Commissioners therefore suggested that the visitor should consider whether the reserved rents should not be increased, and the allowances to the brethren and sisters augmented. (fn. 163) Secondly, the rent from Gorges Mead had been misapplied. It had risen from £10 a year in 1675 to £52 by 1833, but only £23 10s. was distributed to the brethren and sisters, the master keeping the remainder. (fn. 164) As a result the rents were gradually raised, until by 1867-9 they yielded £448 8s. 9d. a year. (fn. 165) But nothing was done to increase the allowances to the brethren and sisters. Instead, the warden, George Howman, used the growing surplus income in practically rebuilding the hospital. (fn. 166)
Throughout the second half of the 19th century changes were taking place in the hospital's endowments. In 1868 its oldest known property, Howe Farm and Woods, was exchanged for meadow land near Salisbury in Bemerton and Fisherton Anger. (fn. 167) Between 1859 and 1885 small pieces of its land were bought by railway companies, and the proceeds invested. (fn. 168) In 1878 and 1879 the stock of the Barrington Fund and the Old South Sea Annuities Fund was transferred to the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds. (fn. 169) The sale, under authorization of the Charity Commissioners, of further small pieces of property at Britford, East Harnham, Fisherton Anger, Corfe Mullen, and Salisbury continued, and resulted in the purchase of more securities in the name of the Official Trustees. (fn. 170) By 1905 the hospital's gross annual income (excluding the Barrington Fund) stood at £1,733 0s. 4d.; £1,288 9s. came from property let at rack rents; £28 7s. from property held on lease at the old reserved rents, and £336 4s. 4d. from dividends from stock. There was also an investment account of about £2,000 stock. (fn. 171) Throughout the period the master's income steadily increased from £165 over and above the cost of repairs in 1883 to £713 in 1905. (fn. 172) In 1906 it was said to be likely to increase by at least another £450 a year as the remaining leases fell in. (fn. 173) By this time the chaplain, who lived in the master's house, had £120 a year, and the nurse £37 18s. 4d., but no changes had yet been made in the allowances to the brethren and sisters. (fn. 174)
During the wardenships of Moberly and Wordsworth this situation was clearly causing concern. In 1881 Moberly drew up a plan (fn. 175) for giving increases to everyone at the hospital, including the master, who, he thought, might have a fixed salary of £200 a year in place of the £180 he was then receiving. He suggested that it might be possible to raise the status of the inmates, so as to give the benefits of the hospital 'not merely to the class of respectable poor, but to those who have seen better days'. For this, it might be necessary to give them £1 1s. a week each, (fn. 176) but the change would have to be made gradually, so as not to arouse jealousy. In any case heating should be introduced into the chapel, where the brethren and sisters had to attend daily, and which was cold and damp; extra apartments should be built for the chaplain, and a new room for one of the sisters. In the end only these last recommendations were submitted to the Charity Commissioners, who authorized them. (fn. 177) Possibly, however, an experiment was made in admitting some poor of the class which 'had seen better days'. Between about 1895 and 1897 Canon Wordsworth, as warden, received a succession of letters (fn. 178) from a probably neurotic brother called Francis Adney, who had formerly served under articles at the law, and did not consider himself 'quite on a par with the labourers and waggoners which all the men here are or have been'. He objected to wearing the uniform hospital overcoat with a red cross on the sleeve, (fn. 179) and demanded better arrangements for cooking, and more coal in place of clothing. The register of admissions for 1861-99 (fn. 180) shows a more interesting variety among the brethren's former occupations than Adney suggests. They included a former schoolmaster from Norwich, two parish clerks of Britford and West Harnham, a farm bailiff, a combmaker from Birmingham, a turnpike-keeper, and a coachman, besides many gardeners and labourers. The sisters were mostly widows, housekeepers, nurses, domestic servants, and laundresses.
On Moberley's death in 1895, Bishop Wordsworth as patron decided that the problem of the master's rapidly rising income demanded the advice of a special committee of the Great Chapter of his cathedral. This committee discussed the possibility of giving the master additional educational or missionary duties in return for his substantial income. (fn. 181) Eventually, however, the bishop appointed his brother Christopher Wordsworth as master on the old conditions. Like his predecessor, Canon Wordsworth was at first non-resident, but visited the hospital frequently, (fn. 182) and in his absence conducted a voluminous correspondence with the chaplain, a minor canon of the cathedral, who lived in the master's house. The chaplain reported to him the inmates' illnesses, their complaints about their clothes and food, and their breaches of discipline, and conducted services in the chapel twice on weekdays and twice or three times on Sundays. (fn. 183) Canon Wordsworth took an active interest in the hospital's religious life and history. He compiled special prayers to be used in its chapel; (fn. 184) revived the ancient custom of admitting confratres or friends to share in the fellowship of its prayers, (fn. 185) and edited its medieval cartulary. In 1906 he told the Charity Commissioners that he usually drew about £300 a year from the hospital for his own maintenance, and applied the surplus to charitable objects in Wiltshire. (fn. 186) Finally, towards the end of his wardenship in 1933, the statutes were at last revised under the authority of the charter of 1610 by the Bishop of Salisbury with the Archbishop of Canterbury's advice. (fn. 187) The master was no longer to be entitled to the surplus income, but instead might reside at the master's house free of rent, and receive a fixed annual stipend of £350. The chaplain was to be paid by the master out of his stipend, while the brethren and sisters were to have weekly payments of not more than £1 each, including their allowance from the Barrington Fund. This was their first money increment since the foundation of the Barrington Fund in 1796, and the first from the hospital's endowments since about 1677. Any surplus income was to be distributed in outpensions not exceeding £50 a year to poor people of good character. The present master, Archdeacon Dale, was the first appointed under these conditions. He lives at the hospital, and the brethren and sisters are paid their full £1 a week. In 1954 inflation and changing social conditions were providing for the hospital a further crisis in its history.
Prior, Wardens, or Masters of St. Nicholas Hospital (fn. 188)
Nicholas of Salisbury or de Lackynges, admitted 1244. (fn. 189)
Adam, prior, occurs 1266 and 1268. (fn. 190)
John Burnel, occurs 1281. (fn. 191)
John de Henton, occurs 1289. (fn. 192)
Robert de Godalmyng, occurs 1298. (fn. 193)
Master Walter de Sherborne, resigned 1300. (fn. 194)
William de Wokingham, collated 1300, resigned 1305. (fn. 195)
John de Netheravon, admitted 1305. (fn. 196)
William de Abendon, collated 1321. (fn. 197)
Peter de Romeseye, collated 1323. (fn. 198)
Master Ralph de Querendon, occurs 1333. (fn. 199)
Richard de Haversham, collated 1337, occurs 1338. (fn. 200)
Master Robert Hatfield, occurs 1388. (fn. 205)
John Hurleigh, occurs 1418, resigned 1420. (fn. 208)
Richard Bucklehurst, collated 1420. (fn. 209)
John Castell, S.T.P., resigned 1432. (fn. 210)
John Wawne, admitted 1432; died before 16 Jan. 1433. (fn. 211)
Master Nicholas Upton, collated 1442. (fn. 216)
Geoffrey Blythe, M.A., collated 1495, resigned 1498. (fn. 223)
Henry Sutton, readmitted 1498. (fn. 224)
William Wilton, D.Can.L., occurs from 1501 to 1525. (fn. 225)
Richard Long, knight, occurs 1540. (fn. 228)
Master Robert Parker, occurs 1592, resigned 1593. (fn. 235)
John Strickland, admitted 1646. (fn. 241)
William Stone, appointed 1656. (fn. 243)
John Ivie, continued in office 1659. (fn. 244)
Thomas Burnet, collated 1711, resigned 1735. (fn. 248)
Robert Burnet, LL.D., collated 1735. (fn. 249)
Nathaniel Hume, collated 1770, resigned 1774. (fn. 250)
John Hume, collated 1774, resigned 1782. (fn. 251)
Edward Emily, collated 1782, died 1792. (fn. 252)
William Coxe, collated 1792, resigned 1792. (fn. 253)
William Douglas, collated 1792, died 1819. (fn. 254)
Arthur Edward Howman, collated 1819, resigned 1822. (fn. 255)
Percy John Dale, collated 1938. (fn. 256)
Impressions of two seals of the hospital are in Salisbury cathedral library. (fn. 257) The first, a medieval one, is a pointed oval measuring 2¾ by 1¾ in. (fn. 258) It shows the mitred figure of St. Nicholas standing with a pastoral staff in his left hand and his right hand raised in benediction. In the base is a fleurde-lis. The legend reads:
The second seal is one of 1610. It is a pointed oval, measuring 3 by 2¼ in., and shows St. Nicholas in the same attitude. On the right is a rose crowned, on the left a wyvern, the crest of the Earl of Pembroke. In the base are the initials G.B., standing for Geoffrey Bigge, on either side of the fleur-de-lis. The legend is:
The seals used under later wardens have usually been variations of one of these. (fn. 259)