Hospitals: Wallingford

A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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'Hospitals: Wallingford', in A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 2, (London, 1907) pp. 99-101. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


Without the south gate of Wallingford, in what is now called the Lower Green, stood a hospital of early foundation dedicated to St. John Baptist. There are various references to it in the thirteenth century, when it supported a master or warden and certain brothers and sisters.

On 21 March, 1224, the king, when at Reading, granted letters of protection for a year to the master and brethren of the hospital of St. John, Wallingford. This grant was renewed by Henry III on 6 September, 1225, when he was stopping at the castle of Wallingford. (fn. 1) On 25 August, 1227, when the king was again at this castle, simple letters of protection, sine termino, were granted to the master, brethren, and sisters of St. John. (fn. 2)

Stephen de Stalles, of Wallingford, granted to the brethren and sisters of this hospital, about 1240, a messuage in the parish of St. Leonard, within the south gate of Wallingford. (fn. 3)

Among the muniments of the corporation of Wallingford are many deeds relative to this hospital, including several of the reign of Henry III, which are undated. (fn. 4)

One of these, executed by the famous Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, records his grant to the brethren and sisters of St. John Baptist of 8d. rent of assize which he had been wont to receive of them for an acre of land held of him in Chalmore; the first witness is Master Peter de Benham, mayor. Another deed witnessed by the same mayor records the grant by a widow of her dower right in the moiety of a messuage to the hospital for the sum of 40s. A third deed, when Alexander de Stalles was mayor, is a grant by Richard Robechild of a piece of land in Wallingford opposite his own house, for the sum of 12s. paid beforehand; the hospital paying to Eustace Clement and his heirs a yearly rental of 6d., and to himself one clove yearly at Easter.

There are various other deeds of grants to and from the hospital when Sir Ralph the chaplain was warden. By one of these they obtained from Stephen de Stalles for 5 marks of silver 2½ acres of land in Newnham, 1 acre near the land of Master Peter de Banham, and 1½ acres elsewhere in Wallingford. By another one Ralph, the master, and the brethren and sisters grant to Stephen the carpenter for 4s. 6d. paid, and for a rental of 4s. 6d., a house with a tiled solar and a small tiled chamber, where Stephen was wont to abide; the said Stephen was to keep the tenement in proper repair and well tiled.

The corporation muniments also include various undated documents relative to the hospital of the reign of Edward I, Sir Ralph the chaplain still being master. (fn. 5) The most remarkable of these is one whereby Christine Joes testifies, making oath and touching the Holy Gospels, that she has bound herself to Sir Ralph and the brethren and sisters to give the fullest security for the peaceful holding by them of 3 acres of land which they had from William her husband—

so namely, that I may be excommunicated from day to day, and denounced as excommunicate through the whole deanery of Henley, if I shall in any way presume to contravene the said gift . . . And if of this I shall be convicted I will give to the archdeacon of Oxford for the time being for the breaking of my vow and for my perjury 20s., and to the said Ralph and brethren and sisters 20s. for such unjust vexation, renouncing the royal prohibition and all right of remedy, civil or canonical.

On 12 October, 1276, Edward I sanctioned the seeking of alms by the master, brethren, and sisters of St. John Baptist, Wallingford, for the period of seven years.

In July, 1305, licence was granted, after inquisition, for the alienation in mortmain by Robert de Turneston, chaplain and master, of 13 acres of land in Wallingford, Clapcot, and Newnham to this hospital. (fn. 6)

In 1313 John de Perssore, warden, granted a tenement in the parish of Great St. Mary to Richard Az, Cecilia his wife, and Agnes his daughter, for their lives, at a yearly rent of 5s.; after the death of the survivor the tenement was to return to the warden; the mayor and bailiffs of the town were among the witnesses. In the following year John Roulond, warden of the hospital, and the brethren and sisters there, granted to Henry de Wyncestre, Alota his wife, and Alice their daughter, a tenement in the parish of 'St. Mary the More,' for the term of their lives, at a yearly rental of 7s.; the mayor and bailiffs for that year are again witnesses. (fn. 7)

Licence was granted in March, 1334, to the master and brethren of the hospital of St. John Baptist, Wallingford, to acquire in mortmain land and rent to the annual value of 100s. (fn. 8)

In June, 1391, Thomas Athelyngton, king's clerk, obtained the grant for life from the crown of the wardenship of this hospital. (fn. 9) It is quite clear, however, that the appointment of the warden had rested with the commonalty or corporation of Wallingford throughout the thirteenth and earlier part of the fourteenth century. This crown nomination was something exceptional. So much was the hospital considered as pertaining to the town that the various deeds recited, and others not here named, were not only usually witnessed by the mayor and bailiffs, but in some cases. it is stated that they were testified to 'by the whole Burgmote' or 'by the whole Portmote.' This is but natural, for the hospital was first founded by the inhabitants at large.

Every old hospital had its chapel annexed, and not a few—like the chapel of the hospital of St. John Baptist and St. John Evangelist in Northampton (fn. 10) —had a good-sized chapel used by other than the inmates. This was the case at Wallingford. The hospital chapel of St. John Baptist was in the parish of St. Leonard, but having no parochial obligations it was technically termed a free chapel.

In the corporation ledger, under the date 25 November, 1542, appears the following entry:—

Richard Adene appeared before the mayor and produced the advowson of the hospital of St. John and that of St. Mary Magdalen, under the seals of the guild and the mayoralty, and was inducted into possession, and the mayor received his oaths faithfully to perform all the constitutions of the hospital. (fn. 11)

The return of the Chantry and College Commissioners of Henry VIII states that the free chapel of St. John Baptist was founded by the inhabitants of the town, and was situated in the parish of St. Leonard, a furlong distant from that church. The annual income for the chaplain, then John Adeane, was £6. (fn. 12) The return of the commissioners of Edward VI two years later gives the annual value of the lands and tenements as £9 15s. 8d.

The fine fifteenth-century seal of this hospital represents St. John Baptist, under a canopy, holding in the left hand an Agnus Dei on a plaque, with a scroll inscribed Ecce Agnu' Dei. Legend:—



There was a second hospital, also of early foundation, at Wallingford (not mentioned by Dugdale or Tanner) dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen.

This hospital was for lepers, and though it was technically in Oxfordshire, being placed at the Newnham end of the old bridge over the Thames, it is rightly named under Berkshire, as it was under the immediate control of the town of Wallingford. The references to it are scanty, but begin in the reign of Henry III.

The master and brethren of the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen extra Wallingford obtained letters of protection from the king in December, 1226, when he was visiting the castle, to last until Christmas in the following year. On 24 August, 1227, when the king was again at Wallingford, he granted full protection to the tenants, and to property of every kind of this hospital, and directed his subjects when the messengers of the hospital came seeking alms to receive them kindly and bestow on them of their substance. (fn. 13)

To this hospital ' a free chapel' was attached; in the time of Henry VII and Henry VIII the same chaplain served the hospital as well as that of St. John Baptist. The admission of Richard Adeane to the advowson of both by the mayor in 1542 has been already recorded. The Chantry Commissioners of 1546 reported that the free chapel of 'Marye Maudlyn' was founded by the inhabitants of Wallingford, and that it was situated within the parish of Newnham, a quarter of a mile from the parish church. (fn. 14)


  • 1. Pat. 8 Hen. III, m. 9; 9 Hen. III, m. 2.
  • 2. Ibid. 11 Hen. III, m. 3.
  • 3. Coxe and Turner, Cal. of Bodl. Chart. 15.
  • 4. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 586, 587.
  • 5. Ibid. 587–8, 590.
  • 6. Pat. 33 Edw. I, pt. ii, m. 16. Robert de Turneston, warden of the hospital, witnesses one of the corporation deeds of the year 1298, and grants were made to him as master in 1301 and 1306.
  • 7. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 593.
  • 8. Pat. 6 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 26.
  • 9. Ibid. 1 Hen. IV, pt. ii, m. 29.
  • 10. Northants Borough Rec. ii.
  • 11. Hedges, Wallingford, ii, 371.
  • 12. Chant. Cert. Berks. 51, No. 56.
  • 13. Pat. 11 Hen. III, m. 9, 3.
  • 14. Chant. Cert. Berks. 51.