Hospitals: St Lawrence, Nantwich

A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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'Hospitals: St Lawrence, Nantwich', in A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3, (London, 1980) pp. 186. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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Near the western entrance to Nantwich and at the opposite end of the town to the hospital of St. Nicholas stood the hospital of St. Lawrence, probably on the west bank of the River Weaver where Welsh Row was later built. (fn. 1) Originally intended for lepers it existed by 1260 when, in return for the payment of 1d., the lepers received a sester of beer from each brewing on a messuage in Nantwich. (fn. 2) The hospital was possibly founded by one of the Norman barons of Wich Malbank as the advowson of the hospital chapel seems to have been divided with the barony; at the end of the 15th century two-thirds of the advowson was held by the Audley family and one-third by the Lovells. (fn. 3) By the mid 14th century the function of the hospital seems to have changed: in 1354 an inquisition found that it ought to contain beds for three infirm paupers receiving 1d. a day. In addition there should have been a chaplain celebrating daily in the hospital but that service, which was worth 20s. a year, had lapsed for four years. (fn. 4) Little else is known of the hospital's history and the fact that further references are to the 'free chapel' or 'chantry' of St. Lawrence suggests that it had ceased to function as a hospital. In 1535 the chapel had an annual income from rents of £4, out of which 4s. was paid in tolls for salt to the baron of Wich Malbank. (fn. 5) At some point it was merged with the chapel of St. James in Newhall (Acton par.) (fn. 6) and the chantry commissioners in 1548 valued the property of both chapels at £3 16s. a year; there were bells worth 2s. but no jewels, plate, goods, or ornaments. (fn. 7) The chapel was dissolved in 1548 and the last chaplain, Richard Wright, was paid a pension of £3 8s. 4d. a year until 1562. (fn. 8) Wright continued to hold the sites and the property of the two chapels which consisted of two crofts, called St. Lawrence's croft and Chapel croft, and two salt houses; he died in 1588 possessed of the tithes of 'the formerly dissolved free chapel of St. Lawrence'. (fn. 9) His widow married Richard Wilbraham who left money for the building, in 1613, of almshouses at Welsh Row Head, on or near the site of the hospital of St. Lawrence. (fn. 10)

Masters or Chaplains

John Fowler, appointed 1499. (fn. 11)

John Incent, B.C.L., occurs 1535. (fn. 12)

Richard Wright, occurs 1545. (fn. 13)

No seal is known.


  • 1. Hall, Nantwich, 53–4. The dedication was popular for leper hospitals: R. M. Clay, Mediaeval Hospitals of Eng. 256–7.
  • 2. B.L. Harl. MS. 2074, f. 63; Ches. R.O., DWN/1/1; Hall, Nantwich, 53.
  • 3. Hall, Nantwich, 54; Cal. Pat. 1494–1509, 164.
  • 4. B.L. Harl. MS. 506, ff. 6v., 13. The supposed connexion with Combermere Abbey (Hall, Nantwich, 54) is based on a misreading.
  • 5. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 218.
  • 6. That chapel was possibly in the fortified manor house of the Audley fam.: Leland, Itin., ed. Toulin Smith, v. 25.
  • 7. Hall, Nantwich, 54.
  • 8. Ibid. 54, 488.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 1548–9, 47.
  • 10. Hall, Nantwich, 54, 372, 436–7, 493.
  • 11. Cal. Pat. 1494–1509, 164. He was a clerk of the royal chapel and was appointed by the king who held the advowson after the attainder of James, Lord Audley in 1497.
  • 12. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 218. For his career and benefices see Emden, Biog. Reg. Oxford, ii. 999.
  • 13. Lancs. & Ches. Rec. ii (R.S.L.C. viii), 395.