Hospitals: St John Baptist, Bridport

Pages 100-101

A History of the County of Dorset: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.

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Though the date of its foundation cannot be exactly stated it is evident, from its mention in various deeds of the time of Henry III belonging to the corporation of Bridport, that the hospital here, like that of Allington, was already in existence in the earlier half of the thirteenth century. (fn. 1) Among these documents is a charter, dated 1240, which recites that Helias de Wroccheshel, for the good of his soul and those of his ancestors and successors, has granted and confirmed to the house of the Blessed John the Baptist in Bridport within the east bridge, and to the brethren and sisters serving God there, leave to graze ten oxen, four yearling cows, one hog, one steer, and fifty sheep in the whole of his pasture land at Walditch, except in his meadows in fence-time (in tempore defencionis), as well as sufficient fencing from his wood to inclose their land in Walditch. (fn. 2) Another deed sets forth an agreement, made on Christmas Day, 1271, whereby John, son of William Telle of Bridport, leased to Sir William, prior of the hospital of St. John, a certain croft situated between the land of St. John and the way leading to the mill of Richard Killing, together with a house, curtilage, and croft bounded by the curtilage which lately belonged to Osbert Baldwyn. (fn. 3) The benefactors of the hospital were numerous, and included Mabel, the daughter of Edward Hux, who, in her widowhood, gave to God and the brethren and sisters serving God in the hospital of St. John, Bridport, 1½ acres of land in Portmannefeld for the soul of Richard her late husband; (fn. 4) Richard Hux, who, by charter undated but belonging to the time of Edward I, engaged himself to pay 12d. yearly to Roger de Rydeclive, warden of the hospital and his successors, from his tenement in the South Street of Bridport; (fn. 5) Christine de Stikelane, who, by her will, dated in 1268, left various small sums to the religious foundations of her town, bequeathed 'xiid. to the "church" of the Blessed John.' (fn. 6)

Little is recorded of this hospital beyond what is contained in these and similar charters. It appears to have been in the patronage of the bailiffs and commonalty of Bridport, who, by an indenture dated on Sunday after the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul (29 June), 1357, granted the custody of the hospital, together with the administration of its goods, to John de Shapwick, chaplain, on the understanding that he by himself or a fit chaplain should celebrate daily in the chapel. (fn. 7) A document still exists among the town archives entitled—

Implements of the priory of St. John the Baptist delivered to Sir John Syltere by Richard Burgh and John Cryps, Bailiffs of Bridport, received from Hugh Prior, late prior there, the 9th October in the 32nd year of King Henry VI,

the possessions and furniture of the inmates are set out under the following headings:—In the Chapel, In the Hall, In the Pantry, In the Kitchen, In the Chamber. (fn. 8) In the deed of 1444, to which all the ecclesiastical authorities of the town set their hands pledging themselves to assist in the pious work of repairing the haven, the master or warden here, John Shipper, is styled 'prior of St. John.' (fn. 9)

The clear income of the house, according to the Valor of 1535, (fn. 10) was estimated at £8 6s. 1d., the name of the then prior being Robert Chard. The chantry commissioners in the reign of Edward VI stated that it was worth £6 15s. 8d., out of which 16s. should be deducted in rents resolute; (fn. 11) the incumbent, William Chard, received the whole profits for his own use; (fn. 12) there was found there 'one chalice and one gold ringe of 12 oz.,' two 'lytle' bells worth 20s., and 'certain ornaments' worth 20d. (fn. 13) The last warden, William Shard or Chard, who may be the same as the Robert Chard of 1535, received a pension of £5. (fn. 14)

Wardens or Priors of Bridport Hospital

William, occurs 1271 (fn. 15)

Roger de Rydeclive, occurs temp. Edward I (fn. 16)

William Worgan, occurs temp. Edward I (fn. 17)

Richard Castelayn, occurs 1295-6 and 1316-17 (fn. 18)

John de Shapwick, appointed 1357, (fn. 19) resigned before 1411 (fn. 20)

John Shipper, occurs 1444 (fn. 21)

Hugh Prior, occurs in 1453 as 'late' prior (fn. 22)

Robert Chard, occurs 1535 (fn. 23)

William Shard or Chard, last incumbent (fn. 24)


  • 1. Rec. of Corp. of Bridport (Hist. MSS. Com.), Rep. vi, App. 475–99.
  • 2. Ibid. 482.
  • 3. Given by Hutchins from the same source, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 19.
  • 4. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 479.
  • 5. Ibid. 484a.
  • 6. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset. ii, 19, note a.
  • 7. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 21.
  • 8. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 493.
  • 9. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 16.
  • 10. Hutchins, in the earlier edition of the Hist. of Dorset, and Tanner after him, has fallen into the mistake of supposing that there were two foundations at Bridport both dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and the error is not entirely explained away by the editors of the last edition of Hutchins; they give it as their opinion that there was only one foundation, 'the chapel of St. John over the bridge a little by west in the town,' described by Leland in his Itinerary (iii, 61), and fail to see that one of the foundations valued in 1535 under Bridport belongs to the hospital of Allington; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 232–4.
  • 11. Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, No. 49.
  • 12. These, in a further section of the roll, were reduced to £6 8s. 9½d. Ibid. No. 61.
  • 13. Ibid. No. 49.
  • 14. B. Willis, Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72.
  • 15. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 19.
  • 16. In a charter of Richard Hux; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 484a.
  • 17. William Worgan occurs as 'prior' of the hospital in another charter by the same Richard Hux, conceding certain lands to the brethren and sisters of the hospital of St. John the Baptist; ibid.
  • 18. He occurs as master in a further charter of Richard Hux, dated 24 Edw. I, and is given as 'keeper of the gate of the hospital of St. John of Bridport' in a grant of Stephen Crul of Walditch, dated 10 Edw. II. From the archives of Bridport; Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 20.
  • 19. Ibid. 21.
  • 20. In that year an inquiry was instituted into the consanguinity of John Shapwick, late prior of the hospital of St. John of Bridport; Madox, Formulare Angl. 15.
  • 21. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 16.
  • 22. He is called late prior of the hospital in the inventory of goods of 9 Oct. 1453; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 493.
  • 23. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 234.
  • 24. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 61; B. Willis, Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72.