Hospitals: St Leonard, Durham

Page 123

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

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St. Leonard's Hospital, which was commonly called the Spital-house, was in existence as early as 1292, when a mention of it occurs in the Patent Rolls, (fn. 1) but the date of its erection and the name of its founder are alike unknown. (fn. 2) It stood ' a little out of Durham on the north,' in what was originally St. Oswald's, but is now St. Margaret's parish. (fn. 3) The only trace of it now remaining is to be found in the name of a field called 'Spital-flat,' or 'Spital-close,' which lies to the north of Chapel-close. (fn. 4) It occurs, under the name of St. Leonard's chapel, in 1324; (fn. 5) and Mickleton says that persons executed for their crimes were usually buried there. (fn. 6)

Spital-house was originally a hospital for lepers; but in 1404 there was apparently only one leper there. (fn. 7) On 20 September, 1526, Cardinal Wolsey, then bishop of Durham, granted to Robert Haroy, in reward for his services, the hospital or messuage called the Spital-house, near Durham, with a garden and a close; the said Robert to maintain the hospital in repair, and pay or cause to be paid to the lepers and sick persons therein one cartload of coal per annum. (fn. 8)

The final demolition of the hospital appears from an entry in the grass-men's books of St. Margaret's parish, 1652-3; 'Paid to labourers for pulling down the walls of Spitalhouse, and carrying them forth for loading, 11s. 4d.' (fn. 9)


  • 1. Pat. 20 Edw. I, m. 5. Possibly this is the 'hospital in Durham' where St. Godric's sister died; Life of St. Godric (Surt. Soc.), 143 n, 378.
  • 2. Randall's MSS. No. 12, fol. 1.
  • 3. Surt. Hist. Dur. iv (2), 137. The hospital is described in 1404 as standing in Framwelgate, and as consisting of 'a messuage, and a close called Spitalplace.' Randall's MSS. ut supra.
  • 4. Surt. ut supra.
  • 5. Reg. II, Eccles. Dun. fol. 83.
  • 6. Surt. Hist. Dur. iv (2), 83n.
  • 7. Randall's MSS. No. 12, fol. 1.
  • 8. Ibid. p. 2.
  • 9. Surt. Hist. Dur. iv (2), 137.