Canterbury: Workhouse and county hospital

Pages 105-106

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.

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Workhouse and county hospital

In 1729, an act passed for establishing A GENERAL WORKHOUSE, for the better relief and employment of the poor within the several parishes of this city, under the management of two guardians chosen yearly from each of them; one of whom is elected their president, and under their management the business of it is conducted. Besides these, there is a deputy president, a treasurer, chaplain, clerk, surgeon, master, mistress and schoolmaster. The poor maintained in the house, and out of it by weekly pensions, are very numerous; but the expence of the whole, which is levied by a tax or assessments on the rents, owing to law suits and other mismanagement, is become very heavy on the inhabitants.

Through the benevolent endeavours of the neighbouring gentry and clergy, A GENERAL HOSPITAL, after the example of other counties, has been erected in the borough of Longport, within the suburbs of the city, on part of the precincts of the antient monastery of St. Augustine, purchased of Sir Edward Hales, bart, the expence of which, amounting to upwards of four thousand pounds, has been defrayed by voluntary subscriptions, on which likewise its future annual maintenance must in general depend. The first stone of it was laid on June 9, 1791, (fn. 1) when it was named THE KENT AND CANTERBURY HOSPITAL; and the building was so far finished and furnished, that on April 26, 1793, it was opened for the reception of in patients, and for administering medicines and advice to out-patients; but this was not for more than what one half of the hospital was capable of containing, owing to the general fund not being at the time equal to a further expence, (fn. 2) tho' it is hoped the charity and liberality of the public will very soon carry this institution to its full extent.

A court of conscience, for the recovery of small debts under 40s. by an act of parliament passed in 1752, is held every Thursday in the Guildhall of this city, which has cognizance over this city and the liberties of it.


  • 1. By Sir Edward Knatchboll, bart. George Gipps, esq. Dr. Wm. Carter, and Mr. William Loftie.
  • 2. By subscriptions, benefactions, charity sermons, legacies, &c. since the first institution of this hopital to the 31st Dec. 1799, there have been received 12, 573l. 15s. 2¾d. Which has been expended in the purchase of land, building the hospital, purchasing 3100l. in the three per cent. consolidated and reduced annuities, and supporting 1881 in patients and out patients.