Hospitals: St Mary in the Peak

Pages 86-87

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

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In the High Peak, about half way between the villages of Hope and Castleton, by the roadside, stood a spital house or hospital, dedicated to the honour of St. Mary, which was founded for certain infirm poor of the district. There is no doubt that it was of early establishment, but of its exact history little can now be learnt. William of Worcester, who traversed Derbyshire in 1478, says that the hospital house of the Peak was founded per uxorem domini Peverelle, meaning thereby the wife of William Peverel, the reputed illegitimate son of the Conqueror. (fn. 1)

In 1394, (fn. 2) John, duke of Lancaster, confirmed the grant of William Peverel, formerly lord of the High Peak, by which he gave to the warden of the hospital of the Blessed Mary of Castleton in the Peak pasture for a mare and its foals, and eight oxen, at all seasons of the year, and for a sow (fn. 3) with its litter during the season of pannage in the pasture of Tydale. The grant further provides that every warden of the hospital shall be a chaplain and celebrate divine service continually therein. (fn. 4)

Richard de Creyk, warden of the hospital of St. Mary, Castleton, formed one of the suite who accompanied Queen Philippa on her journey to France in 1338, (fn. 5) and we may suppose it to have been due to his influence that in January, 1342-3, Queen Philippa granted in frankalmoin for the honour of God and Mary His mother, to Richard Whetton, warden of the hospital of St. Mary, Castleton in the High Peak, 60s. of rent due to her by Nicholas atte Forde, out of lands in Blackbrook, Chapel-en-le-Frith, and elsewhere, towards the sustenance of a chaplain to celebrate divine services daily in the chapel of the hospital, (fn. 6) which grant Edward III confirmed in July of the same year. (fn. 7)

This hospital was valued in 1377 at £3, and four bushels of oatmeal per annum. (fn. 8)

In 1377, Richard II granted to Thomas Brounflete, one of the royal clerks, the custody of this house, therein termed the hospital of Peak Castle, which had been recently seized into the king's hands by the escheator of the county of Derby, to hold the same from the date of seizure so long as it remained in the king's hands, without rendering aught therefor, provided that he supported the burdens of the hospital during his custody. (fn. 9)

In 1454 Robert Nedeham who had had a grant of the hospital of Castleton for life from Henry VI surrendered his letters patent to the intent that Queen Margaret might appoint Thomas Ragg, chaplain, to whom she accordingly granted the post, stipulating that he should keep the buildings in good repair and be perpetually resident. (fn. 10)

On 6 July, 27 Henry VIII, a grant was made by the king to Humphrey Stafford, esq., and Nicholas Borde and Ralph Bradbury, gentlemen, of the profits, advowson, or presentation and collation of warden of the Spittelhouse of the High Peak, in the same way as George Savage, clerk, had held it, when vacant through death or resignation; to be held per se or otherwise on condition of mass and other divine suffrages being celebrated four times a year for the king's good estate and for the souls of the founders. (fn. 11) The grantees, however, had some time to wait before enjoying this concession as, in 1542, George Savage was still keeper of the hospital of Castleton, in which capacity he complained to the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that whereas all previous masters were seised of a rent of 21s. 8d. from land called Blackbrook in the Frith, now held by William Lee of Eggynton, the said William, since the death of his father Richard Lee, refused to pay the said rent. (fn. 12)

In the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 there is a special entry under 'Hospital de Spyttelhowse in Alt' Peke in Com' Derb.'' It there states that at an inquisition held at Tideswell on 6 May, before Edward Eyre, George Warnon (? Vernon), and George Barley, esq., it was said on oath by divers honourable persons that the average annual income of the hospital or spittel house in the High Peak, between Castleton and Hope, was but 40s.

The hospital for some time before its disappearance seems to have served no other purpose but to provide a small income for a non-resident warden. The certificates of the last year of Henry VIII show that it possessed no goods, and that its income of 40s. a year had been granted by the king to one John Savage.

Masters or Wardens of St. Mary's In The Peak

William de Yelvercroft, occurs 1330 (fn. 13)

Richard de Creyk, occurs 1338 (fn. 14)

Richard Whetton, occurs 1342 (fn. 15)

John de Hermesthorp, appointed 1368 (fn. 16)

Thomas Brounflete, appointed 1377 (fn. 17)

Walter atte Grove, appointed 1380 (fn. 18)

John Allot, appointed 1409 (fn. 19)

John del Holme, occurs temp. Henry VI (fn. 20)

Robert Nedeham, resigned 1454 (fn. 21)

Thomas Ragg, appointed 1454 (fn. 22)

George Savage, occurs 1536-42 (fn. 23)


  • 1. Itin. Willelmi de Worcestre (1778), p. 358.
  • 2. Duchy Lanc. Misc. i, 28.
  • 3. 'Un tourge'; this roll is a transcript of c. 1450, and this word must be an error for 'truge'—a sow.
  • 4. 'Toutes fitz garden en dit hospitall qe pr le temp sera soit un chapeleyn'; fitz must be the transcriber's error, possibly for ditz.
  • 5. Rymer's Foedera, v. 57.
  • 6. Duchy of Lanc. Misc. i, 28.
  • 7. Pat. 17 Edw. III, pt. m. 7.
  • 8. Lysons, Derbyshire, 72; the authority for this statement is not cited.
  • 9. Pat. 1 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 14.
  • 10. Duchy of Lanc. Misc. i, 28.
  • 11. Ibid. Misc. Bks. xxii, 236.
  • 12. Ibid. Plead. xii, S. 6.
  • 13. Assize R. 167, m. 80.
  • 14. Rymer, Foedera, v, 57.
  • 15. Duchy of Lanc. Misc. i, 28.
  • 16. Lich. Epis. Reg. Stretton, 15.
  • 17. Pat. 1 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 14.
  • 18. Duchy of Lanc. Misc. Bks. xiv, fol. 43. He was appointed by John duke of Lancaster.
  • 19. Reg. of duke of Lancaster.
  • 20. Belvoir MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), iii, 334.
  • 21. Duchy of Lanc. Misc. i, 28.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Ibid. Misc. Bks. xxii, fol. 236; Duchy of Lanc. Plea. xii, S. 6.