The hospital

Pages 76-92

The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

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The history of the Hospital has been written by Sir Norman Moore, sometime its senior physician; all that will be necessary here, therefore, will be to trace, from the point of view of the Priory, how it came about that the hospital became at last practically independent.

The hospital, as we have seen, was founded by Rahere simultaneously with the priory. It was named, like the priory, after St. Bartholomew, but it was also founded in honour of the exaltation of the Holy Cross, (fn. 1) and in the fourteenth century, in Bishop Braybroke's register at St. Paul's, it is referred to as 'the hospital of the Holy Cross in Smithfield'. (fn. 2)

It was built on a portion of Smithfield, granted by the king, south west of the priory; (fn. 3) but, unlike the priory, which was never enlarged, the site of the hospital was added to by the grant by King Edward II (in the year 1326) of two waste plots in Smithfield. (fn. 4)

We learn from Prior Thomas's charter of 1147 (fn. 5) to Adam the Master, that the object of the hospital was to do all that could be done for the needy, for orphans, for outcasts, for the poor of the district, for every kind of sick person and for homeless wanderers; and from the Close Roll of the year 1352, (fn. 6) that it was founded for the relief of the sick poor until they recovered, for women with child until delivered, and for the maintenance of the children born there; if the mother should die in the hospital the child was to be kept until the age of seven. It was planned to accommodate a master, eight brothers and four sisters.

According to the list of masters in the cartulary of the hospital (fn. 7) Rahere himself was the first master: the three first entries, translated, run as follows:

Rahere, the founder, in the time of King Henry I in the twentythird year then founded that place.

Hagno, the clerk, in the time of the reign of King Stephen in his second year (1137).

Adam, the Mercer, first master of the regular brothers and laymen, in the time of King Stephen in his twelfth year (1146–7).

Rahere had, as we have seen, (fn. 8) the assistance of the aged Alfune in the planning of the priory and of the hospital. Alfune is called by Stow the first hospitaller or proctor of the hospital, by what authority we do not know, but, as already stated, he collected things, including meat from the butchers in the market, for the relief of the poor in the hospital; we have also a record of his collecting in the neighbourhood malt and other things for making their beer. (fn. 9) For all we know, he may have been master before Hagno. We are not told when Alfune died, but it was probably before 1137, the year when Hagno the clerk was appointed Master. Rahere must have found the personal management of his two foundations a great strain without some such assistance. There was probably some difficulty in those early days in finding a suitable stipend for the master, and this was probably the reason why Rahere, having obtained from Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, the Church of St. Sepulchre (fn. 10) close by, appointed Hagno to the vicarage. Rahere made the appointment by charter, sealed with the seal of his convent and with that of his hospital, both of which seals are attached to the deed, still in the possession of the governors of the hospital (pl. VI b, p. 78). There are not, so far as we know, any other impressions extant of these two seals. The grant, translated, may be read as follows: (fn. 11)

'Be it known to the whole body of the faithful that I, Rahere, prior of St. Bartholomew's which is in Smithfield, and the whole convent of our church have granted in alms [or in frankalmoign (in eleemosina)] the church of Saint Sepulchre to Hagno the clerk, to the end of his days if he shall not have entered the rule of another order. Moreover, know ye that the same aforesaid Hagno shall every year render to us for the use of the canons and of the poor staying in the hospital fifty shillings, at the feast of St. Michael twenty-five shillings, twenty-five at Easter.

'In the year of the Incarnation of the Lord one thousand one hundred and thirty-seven, the second year moreover of the rule of King Stephen in England. With these witnesses being present:

Haco, the dean;

Hugh, canon of St. Martin's;

Walter, brother of William the Archdeacon;

Tiold, the canon;

Ralph, the Master;

Gilbert, the priest (presbiter);

Osbert, the priest;

Robert of St. Mary's;

Algar, the priest;

Godfrey, son of Baldwin, the priest (sacerdos);

Roger the black (niger);



Geoffrey the Constable;

Richard the priest;

Burdo the Clerk;

Geoffrey of Heli.' (fn. 12)

By this it will be seen that Rahere obtained not only a stipend for the master of his hospital, but also what was then a considerable sum for the maintenance of his canons in the priory and for the poor in the hospital.

The date of the foundation of St. Sepulchre's 'in the Bayly' (as it was called) does not seem to be known. It was dedicated in honour of the Holy Sepulchre, to rescue which and the Holy Land the first Crusade was organized in 1095. (fn. 13) Roger, known as Roger the Great, a great builder of churches and castles, was a powerful and wealthy prelate. He was chancellor to Henry I during the whole of his reign and justiciary to King Stephen. He was Bishop of Salisbury from 1102 until his death in 1139. He must have spent much of his time in London with the king, so it is quite possible that Roger was one of the friends whom Rahere made at court before his conversion, and that Bishop Roger founded and endowed the church himself and presented it to the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew's at the instance of Rahere. As the hospital cartulary says Hagno was master of the hospital in the second year of King Stephen, we may assume that he was so appointed when he became Vicar of St. Sepulchre's. It is probable that Hagno outlived Rahere and that it was on the occasion of his death that Prior Thomas, in the year 1147, issued his charter and ordinance. (fn. 14)

The objects of this charter were firstly to commit the care of the hospital to Adam the mercer, whom Prior Thomas admitted into the fraternity, though, being a layman, he could not be admitted to the clerical brotherhood; secondly, to make regulations for the future governance of the hospital and also to establish the relations between it and the priory. From this we may assume that dissensions had already begun to appear.

The ordinance of Prior Thomas seems to have served its purpose until the death of that prior in the year 1174, about which time a member of the convent went to Pope Alexander III, then resident at Anagni, (fn. 15) and obtained the grant of privileges for the hospital, of which the original deed is still in the possession of the governors (as already mentioned). (fn. 16) It is addressed 'to the ruler and brethren of the hospital' and was made, as it says, at the request of the proctor, or master at that time (probably Stephen). By it the pope takes the hospital and its belongings under his protection; the chapel adjoining, and the tithes of bread, &c., granted by the prior and convent, he confirms to the brethren of the hospital.

From this time, in the controversies that arose between the priory and the hospital, the latter seems to have gone with all its grievances to the pope, who sent bulls granting the requests of the aggrieved petitioners. All these papal letters are copied in the hospital cartulary. (fn. 17)

As we hear only one side of the case, it is impossible to say whether the prior and canons or the master and brethren were in the wrong in the disputes, but we may assume that there were faults on both sides. The master and brethren of the hospital, in their desire to be free from the control of the canons concerning the discharge of their charitable work, probably magnified the faults of the prior and canons and were not justified in attributing to their actions the base motives that they did. The prior and convent, on the other hand, valuing the right of patronage of the hospital, and having perhaps some pecuniary advantage in the connexion, and being much in need of money for the work that they themselves were carrying on, may have resented too warmly the attempt to separate Rahere's two foundations.

In one of these letters Pope Lucius III (fn. 18) writes to Alan the master:

'Inasmuch as it has been notified to us that by the ill-advised arrangement of Adam, (fn. 19) a layman, who had aforetime been appointed warden of your house, an agreement has been made between your house and the canons of St. Bartholomew's, and has been authenticated by public writing to the effect that on the death of the master for the time being of your house there shall be set over you by the authority of the prior and chapter the man whom ye by the general consent of your community shall have considered proper to be elected, and he, after taking an oath of fealty to the said prior, saving the mastership and security of your house, shall have with your consent the general and independent management of your house; save that he shall not, without the consent of the prior and canons, admit any person to lifelong sustenance in your community; the result of which is, as has been reported to us as the truth, that although at present in your house by the grace of God a very great throng of sick poor and orphans is maintained by the alms of the faithful in Christ and by your own zeal, yet the aforesaid prior and canons, who are seeking their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's (fn. 20) when they have had requests from you as to the reception of any poor persons according to their need, shew themselves the more obstinate according as those proposed for reception are believed to be the more serviceable to your house; to the end that, when you yourselves have gone the way of all flesh, your house and the revenues of the poor may come entirely under their usurpation. As therefore those things that grow from the root of greed ought to be cut back by the pruning knife of apostolic correction, we decree that, saving in other matters the tenor of the agreement between yourselves and the said canons seeing that it was made without fraud and is contained in a genuine instrument in writing, if it shall happen that the aforesaid prior and canons, when request is made by you with fitting humility as to the reception of free and independent persons, in the future treat you harshly or vexatiously, it shall be lawful for thee, my son Alan, and thy successors, with the advice of the brethren, when fit occasion shall arise, freely to receive into lay brotherhood such persons when fleeing from the world, and without the gainsaying of any to retain them in your community, and moreover they must show due reverence and deference to the aforesaid canons.'

From the above it is clear that there was considerable ill-feeling between the hospital and the priory at this early date (1184). It repeats, we may presume, the words of the petition of the master and brethren. It is simply dated 'Verona XVII Kal. Augusti (16th July)', but, as Lucius only resided at Verona from the 25th July 1183 to 25th November 1185, it must have been written between those dates. The next letter is dated Verona VIIII Kal. Augusti (24th July), so probably the first was dispatched in July 1184 and the second in July 1185. It is addressed to the Abbot of Boxley, (fn. 21) to the Archdeacon of Rochester, and to the master of some place in Northampton. (fn. 22) It directs that the prior be suspended from authority to excommunicate for not reporting an appeal made against a sentence of excommunication made by him, the occasion having been the resistance by the hospital of the alleged assault on them by the prior and canons, and the taking possession of the candles at a funeral of one of the brethren of the hospital. A translation is quoted here in full to show to what a pitch the dissensions between the two foundations had reached:

'Lucius, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved sons the Abbot of Boxley, the Archdeacon of Rochester, and the master of the hospital of Northampton greeting and apostolic benediction.

'You shall know that it has come to our hearing that after our beloved sons the brethren of the hospital of St. Bartholomew had placed in their own chapel, according to custom, the body of one of their brethren who had departed this present life, the prior and canons of St. Bartholomew's, desiring violently to remove the body contrary to custom and justice, pronounced a sentence of excommunication of their own initiative against the same brethren, when they resisted them to the best of their power, in spite of appeal made to us, and furthermore falling upon them with a reckless daring, laid violent hands upon them and foully and dishonourably treated them, and stretching out hands of greed towards the candles which were carried with laudable devotion by the faithful at the burial, converted them to their own uses.

'And when the aforesaid brethren and A(lan) the priest, their proctor, brought the complaint to the archdeacon of the place, the said prior with the assent of the canons, and the above-named A(lan) are said to have given their faith to the archdeacon himself that upon these and other objections which had been made on the part of the canons, they would abide by the award of six men whom they would choose by common consent; and although it was included in that compromise under a pledge of good faith that neither of the parties should in the meanwhile inflict on the other any grievance or molestation, yet none the less, as we hear, the said prior and canons, going contrary to their oath of good faith, have caused the said brethren to be shunned as excommunicate by as many as possible, and furthermore have brought upon them grievous wrongs and very much damage.

'And for this reason at our discretion by apostolic writings we command, in so far as that is true which is asserted, the said prior and canons (to pay) the penalties owed for their breach of faith without any chance of escape by appeal, urging them to make adequate compensation to the said brethren in the matter of the damages incurred and wrongs done them and to cease from undue molestation of them, and we bind them by an ecclesiastical censure.

'The sentence of excommunication, however, if it were passed on the same brethren, as is said according to the appeal which has been lodged, you are to pronounce vain; and the prior himself, for the reason that he did not report the appeal, you are to suspend, without leave of appeal, from authority to excommunicate any one until you shall learn further the apostolic will in these matters.

'But if you are not able to take part in the carrying out of these matters, two of you are to carry them out none the less, without obtaining from the apostolic see any letter prejudicing truth and justice.

'Dated at Verona 9th of the Kalends of August.'

There is no record to show that the Abbot of Boxley found the charge against the prior and canons proved. The records of the twelfth century, both ecclesiastical and lay, are in general very meagre, and the more so as regards St. Bartholomew's owing to the loss of the cartulary of the priory. We do not even know the name of the prior at this period.

It is clear, however, that the active man on the side of the hospital was Alan the priest, who was master from the year 1182 to 1211; but the protection of the pope continued to be invoked after Alan's death, for a recitation and confirmation of the bull of Lucius III was obtained from Pope Honorius III in the year 1217, (fn. 23) and there are further letters in the year 1220 addressed to the Bishop of Rochester, and a third addressed to the Bishops of Lincoln and Rochester about the year 1224. There were also letters from Pope Alexander IV in 1258, and two from Urban IV between the years 1261 and 1265, and a general recitation and confirmation of ordinances from Pope Martin V in the year 1425.

These papal bulls or letters seem to have been only put into force, so far as the relations between the two institutions were concerned, when the Bishop of London thought fit to embody such a direction in an ordinance.

No less than four bishops of London endeavoured to make peace and allay the controversies and dissensions. The first attempt was by Bishop Richard de Ely, in the year 1198, who issued 'ordinances', (fn. 24) but this did not allay the troubles. Then in the year 1220, in the bull referred to above, the pope delegated Benedict, Bishop of Rochester, with assessors, to hear both sides. After many disputes, each side agreed to submit to a composition and to abide without appeal by the ordinance of Bishop Eustace de Fauconberge (fn. 25) and his ordinance was promulgated on the 1st July, 1224. A century and a half elapsed and again discord arose; this time over Bishop Eustace's composition. So Simon of Sudbury, then Bishop of London, went very fully into the matter, 'taking counsel', as he says, 'of men discreet and skilful in the law', and having received due information both in the chapter of the canons and in the house of the hospital he decided to modify some of the clauses of the ordinance of Bishop Eustace, and he therefore issued a fresh ordinance on the 12th April 1373, (fn. 26) which is fully described in the following pages. (fn. 27)

In the year 1413 there was a further disturbance (fn. 28) when the prior was charged with delaying the presentation of a new master in order to secure the disposal of the property of the hospital. There was also dissatisfaction with the clause of Simon's ordinance whereby two brethren had to join in the procession on St. Bartholomew's Day. So in the year 1420 Richard Clifford, Bishop of London, issued a further and final ordinance, (fn. 29) arranging these two points in favour of the hospital. As the hospital had now obtained virtual independence there was an end to controversies, but five years later, John Wakering, the master of the hospital, petitioned Pope Martin V for confirmation of the ordinances of Bishop Eustace, Bishop Simon, and Bishop Richard Clifford, which petition was granted on the 18th May, 1425; (fn. 30) and in the year 1453 Pope Nicholas V recited and confirmed the recital of Pope Martin V (fn. 31) and also the bulls of Popes Lucius III and Alexander IV.

The points of controversy, which were very numerous, are here detailed, showing how they were affected and finally arranged by the various ordinances.

The Election of Master.

Prior Thomas had ordained, in the year 1147, that on the death of a master the brethren should elect in chapter from their own number the one they thought best; that he should have the same charge as his predecessor had had, and be solemnly bound by an oath of fidelity and obedience to the prior. Stephen, the fourth master, was elected accordingly in the same year (1147). (fn. 32) Pope Lucius, in the year 1184, confirmed the arrangement, but Bishop Richard, in 1197, ordained that the election should be made with the common consent of the canons as well as of the brethren, and if none of the brethren were fit for the office the master might be chosen from outside, promising obedience to the prior as before.

This arrangement evidently was not satisfactory, for Bishop Eustace ordained, in the year 1224, that on the death of a master the brethren should obtain licence to elect from the prior in the same way as the canons had to obtain licence from the king for the election of a prior, after which they were then free to choose a master for themselves; but the person elected must be a priest, or one who could be promoted to the priesthood in a short time, and not a layman as in the case of Adam the mercer. After his election he was to be presented to the prior, and, if the prior considered him fit, he was to present him to the bishop for confirmation. After confirmation the master was to swear obedience to the prior and his successors at the chapter of the prior and convent, but only in lawful and canonical commands, and on the articles of the bishop's ordinance, and not otherwise. This arrangement seems to have worked well for 150 years, for Bishop Simon confirmed it and we hear of no further controversy concerning the matter until the year 1413, when it was alleged that the prior, without reasonable cause, had so long delayed in presenting an elected master to the bishop for confirmation that the hospital had suffered.

In consequence of this, Bishop Richard Clifford, in the year 1420, ordained that, although the brethren were still to seek licence to elect from the prior, after the election they were to go straight to the Bishop of London for confirmation and not to the prior, but the prior was to induct after the confirmation. Bishop Richard also ordained that, if the master proved to be worthless, he was to be removed by the common consent of the canons and brothers, and a better substituted.

Several instances of election under Bishop Richard Clifford's ordinance are very fully set out in the episcopal registers of St. Paul's from 1510 to 1532. Sometimes the election would be by the method of 'Inspiration of the Holy Ghost'; (fn. 33) sometimes 'by delegation', as in 1525, (fn. 34) when Cardinal Wolsey was delegated to choose, and as in 1532, (fn. 35) when Archdeacon Gwent, the Dean of the Arches, was so delegated (probably with the view of the appointment of the king's nominee).

Admission to the Hospital of new Brethren and Sisters.

Prior Thomas had ordained (as mentioned above in the letter of Pope Lucius III) that the master might admit any one for consultation and help, but not to perpetual food and clothing, without the consent of the prior and convent. But the master complained to the pope, as has already been seen, that the canons put obstacles in the way of admission of those likely to be useful to the house; therefore Pope Lucius ordered 'that it should be lawful for the master, with the advice of the brethren, to receive from time to time any who were desirous of fleeing from the world and to keep them in their society without any one saying nay; nevertheless', he said, 'they must show reverence and honour to the canons'.

Bishop Richard, fourteen years later, did not confirm this order of the pope, but, on the contrary, ordained that no one should be admitted to permanent pension or investiture without consent of the prior and convent; and whatever persons were admitted as brethren or sisters were to receive their habit from the prior at a chapter of the canons, and must swear obedience to the prior and church of St. Bartholomew.

Bishop Eustace ordered that, although permission must first be asked from the prior, if the candidate was unknown to the prior but was known as a fit and useful person to the master and brethren, then the prior must give his assent. If the prior knew the candidate and thought him unfit, but the master and brethren thought the contrary, then the decision was to be left to the bishop or to the chapter of St. Paul's. When the candidate was admitted the prior was to take or send the habit to the chapter of the brethren of the hospital where it should be delivered, instead of in the chapter of the canons. The person thus admitted was then to swear fealty to the prior and obedience to the master in the presence of the prior and of the master. If any man were ill and desired the brotherhood, it was to be reported to the prior that he might come to the hospital and deliver the habit to him and, if delay should be dangerous, then it should be lawful for the master himself to deliver it. If the sick person recovered, he was to take the oath of fealty to the prior and obedience to the master as done by others. Bishop Simon, however, modified this and allowed the master to receive a new brother or sister, and to deliver the habit without the assent of the prior, but within three days of such delivery the new brother or sister was to swear fealty to the prior and convent.

The Chapel of the Hospital.

Prior Thomas also ordained that the master might complete the chapel which had been commenced almost at the same time as the hospital itself, but the gateway towards the horse market was to be blocked and in it placed a box for collections (probably the horses wandered into the hospital on market days as they did into the priory). The chapel in the midst of the hospital was to be removed, as it was too much hidden, and in order that the hospital might have a better effect and be more roomy for those coming to it.

This order does not seem to have been carried out; possibly there was difficulty in getting a faculty for the demolition; for in the year 1184 Pope Lucius granted a free faculty (subject to the consent of the bishop) for the transfer of the oratory to a more suitable spot in their own ground, and he instructed the Bishop of London to consecrate it, when rebuilt, without raising any objection; but here the matter ends as far as the records go.

Prior Thomas granted that the master and brethren might have a chaplain, other than a canon of the priory; this was never afterwards disputed, though Bishop Richard directed that the chaplain should be chosen in the same way as was the prior, that he should then be presented to the bishop, after which he was to take the oath of submission to the prior and convent.

The Collections.

Prior Thomas ordained that the brethren of the hospital 'might go out to obtain those things that were necessary for their house as had been the custom heretofore'. Richard de Ely did not refer to the matter, but apparently some overlapping arose later on, as Bishop Eustace directed that 'when they went forth to preach or to collect alms, they should take an oath to ask for nothing except in the name of the hospital, or, if they should receive anything appertaining to the canons, they should restore it at once'; and vice versa that the canons or lay-brothers should take a like oath. This regulation was confirmed by Bishop Simon and never altered.

The Priory Tithes to the Hospital.

Prior Thomas ordained that the hospital should have, as hitherto, the gift of a tithe from the priory of bread and of the leavings of bread, meat, fish, and drink, 'and', he adds, 'it is to be given with greater cheerfulness, if it be possible, than heretofore, and more abundantly. If the hospital should lack anything in which the priory should abound, or if the house of the hospital should abound in anything which the priory lacked, they should assist each other in turn without reluctance on either side'.

Pope Alexander III, as we have seen, confirmed this grant about the time of the death of Prior Thomas. Bishop Eustace also again recited the gift and confirmed it, but added thereto the anniversaria or funeral offerings, if any such were given. The reason of this addition was probably to settle the quarrel which gave rise to the scene alleged by Pope Lucius to have taken place at the funeral of one of the brethren of the hospital in the year 1185, already referred to.

But the time came when Bishop Simon of Sudbury, in the year 1373, having made the prior and convent give way in so many things, had to ordain that they should no longer give to the master and brethren these tenths as they had been doing for over 200 years, neither should they give the anniversaria, but he also ordered that the hospital should continue to observe the same hospitality of the sick as honourably and as liberally as heretofore; and this was confirmed by Bishop Clifford in the year 1420.

The Burial Ground.

The ordinance of Prior Thomas makes no mention of the question of a separate burying ground for the use of the hospital, so we may presume that the agitation to obtain one had not then commenced; but ten years after the death of Thomas, in 1184, Pope Lucius ordered that 'notwithstanding any man's objection or appeal the cemetery there for the brethren, household, and poor was to be hallowed, though heretofore they had burial at the church of the canons'. The disturbance at the funeral at the hospital probably caused the pope to make this order, but it was not observed, for seven years later, in 1191, Pope Celestinus III, (fn. 36) after confirming the bull of Lucius III, enlarged on the necessity of a separate burying ground and ordered that one be granted, 'since', he says, 'on account of the multitudes of those who sojourn in the house of your hospital, and the excessive distance of the cemetery through the horse market and muddy streets, the labour entailed on those brethren and servants in your house who apply themselves to conducting funerals is recognized in these days to have grown to vast proportions'.

It is noteworthy that, after these two papal bulls, Bishop Richard in his ordinance of the year 1197 should have entirely ignored the papal letters, and that Bishop Eustace in his ordinance of 1224 should have said 'moreover, the cemetery granted to them by the indulgence of the Lord the Pope, which the brethren desired to be consecrated, they shall not have, nor shall they claim any other for the future except the cemetery set aside for the burials of the poor by the canons'. But he made a concession which probably, from a pecuniary point of view, satisfied the master and brethren for a time, for he ordered that 'if any one of the City of London or elsewhere shall choose the burial of the poor of the hospital of St. Bartholomew's, his body, having been brought to the said hospital, and mass having been celebrated for the souls of himself and of the faithful, he shall be buried in the said cemetery set aside for the burial of the poor as if he had died among the poor in the hospital'.

But the agitation broke out again, for 150 years later, in 1373, Prior Thomas de Watford gave way and Simon of Sudbury granted that the master, brethren and sisters might be buried in their hospital, together with those dying there; and that they might cause a cemetery to be consecrated, and admit any wishing to have sepulture there, excepting those dying within the priory and those who were parishioners of St. Sepulchre's. But they were not to be allowed to ask for a burial ground in the priory for the burial of their poor which had been assigned to them of old, nor were they to interfere with any burial ground or burial there. This was confirmed by Bishop Clifford in the year 1420, and so one of the greatest of the contentions between the two foundations was satisfied. This burial ground was next the present Little Britain gate, as we learn from the will of John Baldwin, 'made within the great South gate of the Hospital called Tanhousgate towards Dokelane and next the common cemetery of the Hospital', in the year 1414. (fn. 37)

The Alienation of the Hospital Property.

Richard de Ely, in the year 1197, ordained that the master should not alienate property of the hospital of any kind, without the consent of the Bishop of London, and of the prior and convent, (fn. 38) and that he should render an account twice a year of receipts and expenditure.

Bishop Eustace confirmed this, adding that the seal of the hospital was to be kept under three keys, one in the possession of the master and two in that of two of the brethren who were to be elected for the purpose, and the prior was not to change them if they were considered fit by the master and brethren.

Simon of Sudbury, however, went further and gave the master and brethren power to alienate any revenue and possessions they liked without consulting the prior, so long as they observed the sacred canons of the church. He especially mentioned also that the prior ought in no respect to meddle with the custody of the seal. In spite of this clear direction, however, prior John Watford, in the year 1413, whilst the hospital was in his charge during a voidance of the mastership (from 31 August, 1412, to 13 June, 1413), (fn. 39) tried to ignore the ordinance, or was accused of doing so, by securing the custody of the keys and the disposal of the property. He was also accused, as we see by Bishop Richard Clifford's ordinance of 1420, of delaying the presentation of a new master with this object. (fn. 40) The matter, being a breach of the ordinance of Simon of Sudbury, was brought before the Ecclesiastical Courts in the month of February, 1413; but a writ of prohibition was issued by the king (Henry IV), commanding that the case should be transferred to the King's Court; and a further writ was issued on this writ being disobeyed. (Copies of these writs are in Cok's cartulary at the hospital. (fn. 41) )

General Assemblies.

Richard de Ely, in 1197, ordered that four times in the year all the brethren and sisters of the hospital house were to come to a general assembly of the two foundations and were to join in the procession of St. Bartholomew at Candlemas (February 2nd), Palm Sunday, Easter Day, and Ascension Day. But the master and brethren probably found that they could be ill spared from tending the sick on those occasions, so Bishop Eustace reduced the number of attendances to two only, Palm Sunday and Ascension Day, and on St. Bartholomew's Day two of the brothers were to bring to the procession two wax tapers weighing four pounds in the name of the master and brethren, and subsequently offer them at the high altar of St. Bartholomew's. This, too, was irksome, so Bishop Simon excused all attendance at the processions so long as Bishop Eustace's injunction concerning the two candles on St. Bartholomew's Day was followed. But still the hospital was not satisfied, and urged that even the attendance on St. Bartholomew's Day was too much, giving as a reason that it occupied the two brethren so long a time that the masses and other divine offices which ought to be celebrated at the hospital on that day had ceased and, in consequence, the devotion of the patients had been lessened and much scandal had been sustained. Richard de Clifford, in his ordinance of 1420, therefore, ordered that only one brother should offer the wax, that it should weigh six pounds, and that the brother should return at once to the hospital, and not join in the procession as had been the custom for the previous 300 years.

The Bells.

It was apparently not until the thirteenth century that the hospital agitated to have more bells, when Bishop Eustace ordered that the master and brethren should not have more than two, that the bells should not be large, and that the master and brethren were not to have a belfry in the accustomed way; and further that on Easter Eve they were not to ring their bells before those at the priory were rung. But Simon of Sudbury, with the consent or at the instance of Prior Thomas de Watford, allowed them to have as many and as large bells as they pleased, and to construct a bell tower for them in the usual way, and on Easter eve to ring them as freely as they liked. This was also confirmed by Bishop Richard in 1420.

Altar and Image of St. Bartholomew.

Apparently the canons had to protest early in the thirteenth century against the hospital erecting a St. Bartholomew altar and an image of the apostle, for fear of oblations being diverted thereby. Bishop Eustace ordered, in the year 1224, that no such altar or image should be erected to the prejudice of the canons, and Bishop Simon confirmed this, and thus it remained to the end.


The last subject of controversy was the punishment of offenders, concerning which Bishop Eustace ordained, and Bishop Simon confirmed, that the master of the hospital should himself, were he able, correct the excesses of the brethren and sisters; but if unable, then the prior should, at the instance of the master, come to the chapter of the brethren, where those things needing correction should be corrected by the advice of himself and of the master; or, if they failed in correcting, then correction should be administered by the bishop or his official.

This matter was also the subject of an injunction by Gilbert de Seagrave, bishop of London, in the year 1316. (fn. 42) By these injunctions it was ordered that simple quarrelling by the brethren or sisters was to be punished on conviction by reduction to the rule of bread and water for one day more or less; disobedience for a whole day by a fast of bread and water for three days, or, if the offender continued longer obstinate, then the punishment was to be suspension or excommunication.

These ordinances were subject to appeal to the Bishop of London. They were drawn in the form of a tripartite chirograph and were to be sealed by the Bishop of London, the chapter of St. Paul's, the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew's, and by the master and brethren of the hospital. One part was to remain with the prior and convent, one with the master and brethren, and one in the treasury of St. Paul's.

That the orders contained should not be forgotten, it was ordered that the prior, with some of his canons, should come, year by year, on the morrow of Ash Wednesday, to the chapter of the hospital, and there cause the ordinances to be read. On the sixth week-day afterwards the master of the hospital, with some of his brethren, was to come at the chapter hour to the chapter of the priory and do likewise.

The form of oath of obedience to the prior to be taken by a new master is appended to the copy of the ordinance of Bishop Eustace in the hospital cartulary.

It was well for the hospital thus to have obtained practical independence of the priory. A root principle in the Benedictine and Augustinian Orders was the family life of the monastery and that the abbot of every house should be the elect of the community he was to govern; to live the family life all must be under one roof (which was not the case with the hospital and priory). It was a gain to them when they had freedom of election of their master, and it was a loss when they chose to elect by the process of 'delegation', thus placing the appointment in the hands of the king.

From the first there is evidence of the good work done by the hospital; but after the year 1420, when complete independence was gained, their good works begin to appear in the public records. Thus when King Henry VI granted licence (fn. 43) to the master and brethren to acquire land in mortmain in the year 1437, he did so ' in consideration of their great charges in receiving the poor, feeble, and infirm, keeping women in childbirth until their purification, and sometimes feeding their infants until [the time when they would have been] weaned'. In the year 1446, the same king, in making a personal grant (fn. 44) of lands in Hendon, does so 'for their aid and relief and for the help of the wanderers and beggars who congregate at the hospital'. In the year 1464, also, King Edward IV, (fn. 45) when granting a pardon to the master, did so ' in consideration of the work done within the hospital in relief of poor pilgrims, soldiers, sailors, and others of all nations'. Even Henry VIII, (fn. 46) when resuscitating the hospital in the year 1544, which he had suppressed 4½ years before, expressed a wish 'that the works of charity might be restored: to administer solace to prisoners, shelter to the poor, visitation to the sick, food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, and burial to the dead'. (fn. 47)

Down to the present time, this great foundation of Rahere has acted up to the grand intentions of its first pious founder, and it has gone far beyond anything which he could have thought of, even in his dreams. (fn. 48)

The following will in Queen Mary's reign is an example of the affection inspired then, as now, by the devotion of the medical and nursing staffs: (fn. 49)

' I Guye Hill of Creekerne in the County of Somerset geve and bequeathe to the hospitall of Sainte Bartilmewes of London v s. Item I geve and bequeathe to my surgeon v s. also I geve and bequeathe to the hospiteler of the saide hospitall xii d. Item I geve also to Mestres Fissher the mestres of the hospitall v s. Item I geve and bequeathe to Mary Johnson seester of the saide house who keapeth me xx d. Also I geve and bequeathe unto every poore man within the ward where I lye ii d. a peace. . . . Proved at London 4 Dec. 1557.'

The subsequent records of the priory are chronicled in the following chapters.


  • 1. Hosp. Cart., f. 62, Hospitalis Sancti Barthi nuncupati et in honore exaltationis sancti crucis fundati.
  • 2. Reg. Lond., Braybrooke, f. 282, A.D. 1373 (often spelt Braybroke).
  • 3. Cartae Antiq., vol. 1, no. 11. Dugdale, Mon. Ang. vi, 295, 37 Hen. III, 15 June 1253.
  • 4. Pat. 19 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 5.
  • 5. Hosp. Cart., f. 46.
  • 6. Close, 26 Edw. III, m. 28. Dugdale, Mon. Ang. vi, 296.
  • 7. Hosp. Cart., f. 62.
  • 8. Above, p. 53.
  • 9. Book of Found., Lib. I, cap. xxiii.
  • 10. Cart. Antiq., L. II, 37 Hen. III (1253).
  • 11. For Latin see App. I, p. 489.
  • 12. Reproduced and transcribed in N. Moore, Hist. St. B.'s Hosp. i, 26.
  • 13. The Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, who had the keeping of the Holy Sepulchre, followed the rule of St. Augustine.
  • 14. Hosp. Cart., f. 46. See App. I, p. 490; translation below, p. 95.
  • 15. See above, p. 56.
  • 16. Hosp. Cart., f. 47. See App. I, p. 56. For photograph of original deed, preserved at the Hospital, see N. Moore, Hist. of St. B.'s Hosp. i, 150.
  • 17. Hosp. Cart.: f. 47, Lucius III, 1183; f. 48, Lucius III, 1184; f. 48 d, Lucius III, 1185; f. 51, Clement III. c. 1190; f. 48 d, Celestinus, 1191; f. 49, Celestinus, 1192; f. 49 d, Celestinus, 1192; f. 50, Honorius III, 1217; f. 51, Alexander IV, 1258; f. 52 d, Urban IV, 1265; f. 58, Martin V, 1425; and others in connexion—addressed to the Bishops of London, Rochester, &c.
  • 18. Hosp. Cart., f. 48, here translated.
  • 19. The ordinance of Prior Thomas addressed to Adam.
  • 20. Philip. ii, 21.
  • 21. A Cistercian abbey in Kent.
  • 22. Probably the Hospital of St. John Baptist, founded 1137.
  • 23. Hosp. Cart., f. 50.
  • 24. These were published by Sir Norman Moore in pamphlet form in the year 1886. One of the three originals with seal attached is in St. Paul's Library, Box A. 25, No. 643 (pl. VII). There is no copy in Cok's cartulary at the hospital.
  • 25. The only copy is in Hosp. Cart., f. 53 d. See also below, p. 112.
  • 26. Reg. Lond. Braybroke, f. 24. St. Paul's Lib., Box 25, No. 644; another copy, No. 647. Hosp. Cart., f. 55. Trans. in Cal. Pap. Reg. x, 642.
  • 27. Below, pp. 84–90.
  • 28. Hosp. Cart., f. 56 d.
  • 29. Hosp. Cart., 57 d. Trans. in Cal. Pap. Reg. x, 642.
  • 30. Hosp. Cart., f. 58.
  • 31. Cal. Pap. Lett. x, 642–6, 5 July, 1453 (there translated in extenso).
  • 32. Hosp. Cart., f. 62.
  • 33. Reg. Lond. FitzJames, Installations, f. 15, Election of Robert Byley, 1510.
  • 34. Reg. Lond. Tunstall, f. 80, Election of Geoffrey Wharton, 1525.
  • 35. Reg. Lond. Stokesley, f. 66, Election of John Brereton, 1532.
  • 36. Hosp. Cart., f. 49.
  • 37. App. I, p. 532.
  • 38. Stephen the Master obtained consent of the prior to the alienation of two pieces of land, cir. 1166; St. Paul's MSS., A, Box 41, No. 396.
  • 39. In 1285 the king ordered an inquiry as to the right to the advowson of the hospital and if the custody during a vacancy belonged to him or to the prior. The answer was that the priory was a free chapel of the king and the hospital was annexed as a member and subject to it. When the hospital was vacant the prior had the custody. Chancery Inq., P.M. 13 Edw. I, N. 125.
  • 40. See later, p. 200.
  • 41. Hosp. Cart., f. 56 d.
  • 42. See his injunctions recited by his successor, Richard de Newport, in 1318 Reg. Lond. Baudake, ff. 39 d and 40.
  • 43. Cal. Pat., 15 Hen. VI, m. 22.
  • 44. Pat. Roll, 24 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 5.
  • 45. Ib., 4 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 19.
  • 46. Ib., 36 Hen. VIII, pt. 24, m. 41, 23 June.
  • 47. L. and P., For. and Dom., Hen. VIII, No. 812, (80) Grants 1544. See also below, p. 275.
  • 48. 7,500 in-patients, 130,000 out-patients treated every year.
  • 49. Wills, P.C.C. Wrastley, 53.