Hospitals: SS Lazarus, Mary & Martha, Sherburn

Pages 115-117

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

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Sherburn Hospital was founded in or about 1181 by Bishop Pudsey, who dedicated it to Christ, the Blessed Virgin, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. (fn. 1) It was built for the reception and entertainment of sixty-five poor lepers, men and women, with a master and three priests. Of these priests two were to officiate at the altar of St. Mary Magdalen, and the third to sing mass in the chapel of St. Nicholas, which adjoined the building occupied by the sisters on the south side.

The original endowment comprised the vill, mill, and pasture of Sherburn; Ebchester, 'the place of anchorets upon the Derwent,' for feeding animals for the use of sick brethren, and 1 carucate of land there for their shepherds; 9 oxgangs in Witton; the vill of Garmondsway; 1 carucate called Raceby; a carucate and an oxgang in Sheraton; and the churches of Kelloe, Grindon, Sockburn, Ebchester, and Bishopton. (fn. 2) Subsequent grants included lands in South Sherburn, (fn. 3) a messuage in Ebchester, (fn. 4) free warren in Sherburn, Whitwell, Garmondsway, and Ebchester, (fn. 5) and other small holdings.

Little is known of the hospital during the thirteenth century. About the middle of that period died Martin of St. Cross, master of Sherburn, a wealthy and important personage. In his will he provided for his burial at Sherburn, should his death take place there; and in that case he bequeathed some vestments to the hospital. He also left to it some books, including his Argenteus Textus (i.e. probably a copy of the New Testament written in silver characters), and a pittance of 10s. each to the inmates of any religious house where he might die. (fn. 6) Presumably his death occurred at Sherburn, as the brethren and sisters received an annual pittance on Holy Cross Day in memory of him, though the amount was reduced by Bishop Kellaw to 5s. 5d. Bishop Kellaw (c. 1316) confirmed and enlarged the original constitutions of Bishop Pudsey. He built a new chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, on the north of the old chapel, and added a fourth priest, who sang mass daily, somewhat later than the usual service, for those brethren who were too infirm to rise and hear mattins.

On Sundays and festivals high mass was celebrated in the principal chapel for the lepers of both sexes, who entered at their respective sides of the chapel in procession, preceded by their prior and prioress, and after service departed again within the veil of separation. (fn. 7)

The lepers were liberally supplied with food, clothing, and firing; but, considering that the inmates were all more or less afflicted, the discipline of the house was somewhat severe. In case of disobedience the prior was to chastise the offender with a rod; should that prove ineffectual, he was to be kept on bread and water; and if still contumacious to be expelled from the community. (fn. 8) During Advent and Lent all the brethren were required to receive corporal discipline in the chapel three days in the week; and the sisters in like manner in the presence of their prioress donec omnes vapulent. (fn. 9) A place in the hospital was nevertheless regarded as a thing to be coveted; Edward II asked the bishop as a favour to admit Joan widow of John Chamber, by way of showing his gratitude for the good service of her late husband against the Scots. (fn. 10)

In 1378 Bishop Hatfield issued a commission to the priors of Durham and Finchale to visit the hospital, (fn. 11) but no returns of this visitation exist. Apparently at this time the house was falling into decay, for in September, 1429, when Bishop Langley's chancellor visited it, it was in such a destitute and miserable condition that the bishop applied to Pope Eugene IV for help. (fn. 12)

The pope readily granted him a faculty to make new rules and ordinances, which he accordingly issued on 22 July, 1434. He appointed a priest as master, to have under him four chaplains, four clerks or singing-men, and two boychoristers. Two lepers, if so many could be found, were to be maintained apart by themselves, and thirteen poor men were to be fed and clothed, to mess and lodge in the same house, and to attend mass daily. On the death of any brother the master was to choose a successor within fifteen days or forfeit a mark to the fabric of Durham Cathedral. A sober woman-servant was to attend on the brethren at the master's expense to wash their linen and do other offices. The master was made responsible for the goods and buildings of the hospital, and was bound by an oath to perform all his duties. (fn. 13)

In 1501 Mr. Dykar was appointed master (fn. 14) on the resignation of Alexander Lee, who, owing to paralysis and other troubles, had for some months been so infirm as to require the services of a coadjutor. (fn. 15) Mr. Dykar was a most unscrupulous person. He expelled from the hospital all the poor inmates for whose benefit it primarily existed, and in their place added to the staff two priests, two deacons, and four boychoristers. The change considerably increased the master's income, which was still further augmented by the reduction of the clerical staff in the course of the reign of Henry VIII to two priests, two deacons, and two children. (fn. 16)

In the Valor of 1535 the annual value of Sherburn Hospital is given as £142 0s. 4d. (fn. 17) As a secular foundation it was not dissolved with the religious houses, but continued to exist in a more or less impoverished and disorganized state, the subject of many broils, till in 1585 it was incorporated anew under the name of Christ's Hospital, Sherburn. The number of brethren was raised to thirty, under a master who was to be a preacher holding no other cure; and the bishop was empowered to make rules for its good government. (fn. 18) The well-known Valentine Dale was the first master under the new régime. (fn. 19) From time to time the bishops of Durham have issued fresh ordinances for the house; those made by Bishop Butler in 1735 (fn. 20) holding good till the hospital was reconstituted by the Charity Commissioners in 1857. (fn. 21)

Masters of Sherburn Hospital

Arnold of Auckland, occ. 1184 (fn. 22)

Ralph the Monk (fn. 23)

Warren of Godet (fn. 24)

Martin of St. Cross, app. 1245, (fn. 25) occ. 1259 (fn. 26)

Roger of Seyton, occ. c. 1269 (fn. 27)

William of the Island, occ. 1302 (fn. 28)

Lambert of Trikingham, occ. 1313 (fn. 29)

Thomas of Haswell, occ. before 1330 (fn. 30)

Thomas de Nevill, presented 1340 (fn. 31)

John of Westwitton, occ. 1343 (fn. 32)

Alan of Shuttlington, coll. 15 August, 1362 (fn. 33)

Thomas of Bernolby, coll. 1367 (fn. 34)

John of Waltham, occ. 8 May, 1384, (fn. 35) res. 1388 (fn. 36)

Thomas Haxeye, app. by the king, 13 September, 1388 (fn. 37)

Henry Godebarne, estate ratified, 28 September, 1389 (fn. 38)

John Stacy, app. by king, 26 September, 1390 (fn. 39)

John Burgess, app. by king, 17 August, 1391 (fn. 40)

John Wendelyngburgh, died before 22 September, 1395 (fn. 41)

Nicholas Slake, app. 22 September, 1395, p.m. John Wendelyngburgh (fn. 42)

Alan of Newark, occ. 3 January, 1403-4, (fn. 43) res. 1409, (fn. 44) died 1411 (fn. 45)

John Newton, inducted 14 June, 1411, (fn. 46) occ. January, 1415-6 (fn. 47)

Nicholas Dixon, coll. 28 November, 1427, p.m. J. Newton (fn. 48)

John Marshall, coll. July, 1433, p.r. N. Dixon (fn. 49)

Alexander Lee, coll. c. 1490 (fn. 50)

Robert Dykar, coll. 1501, p.r. A. Lee (fn. 51)

Roderick Gundisalve, app. 11 May, 1507 (fn. 52)

Geoffrey Wren, occ. 1524, d. 4 April, 1527 (fn. 53)

Edward Fox, app. 1527 (fn. 54)

Sir Thomas Leigh, kt., coll. 14 September, 1535, d. 1545 (fn. 55)

Anthony Bellasis, app. 1545, d. 1552 (fn. 56)

Sir Richard Read, kt. occ. 1552 (fn. 57)

Anthony Salvin, app. 13 August, 1552, (fn. 58) deprived for Romanism 1559 (fn. 59)

Ralph Skinner, occ. 1559 (fn. 60)

Thomas Lever, app. 28 January, 1562-3 (fn. 61)

Ralph Lever, coll. 16 July, 1577, p.m. T. Lever (fn. 62)

Valentine Dale, pres. 17 April, 1585 (fn. 63)

Robert Bellamy, occ. 1589 (fn. 64)

Thomas Murray, app. 1608 (fn. 65)

William Shawe, coll. 11 July, 1623 (fn. 66)

David Miles, 'curate in Sherburn Hospital,' occ. 1626 (fn. 67)

John Machon, occ. 24 September, 1636, ejected 1642 (fn. 68)

John Fenwick, sen. occ. 1643
John Fenwick, jun. occ. 1654
usurpers (fn. 69)

John Machon, restored 12 March, 1660-1 (fn. 70)

John Montague, occ. 1680 (fn. 71)

Thomas Rundle, D.D., occ. 1727 (fn. 72)

Wadham Chandler, occ. 1 August, 1735 (fn. 73)

Robert Stillingfleet, occ. June, 1738 (fn. 74)

David Gregory, D.D., occ. 15 September, 1759 (fn. 75); d. 1767. (fn. 76)

Mark Hildesley, D.D., occ. 21 September, 1767 (fn. 77)

Thomas Dampier, D.D., occ. 1773, res. 1774 (fn. 78)

Thomas Dampier, D.D., coll. June, 1774 (fn. 79)

Andrew Bell, D.D., occ. 1809 (fn. 80)

George S. Faber, app. 1832, d. 1854 (fn. 81)

Edward Prest, app. 1857

James Carr, app. 1861

Henry A. Mitton, app. 1874, pres. master

The seal of Sherburn House bears a full-length figure of our Lord, clad in a long robe, holding in His left hand a crown, and in His right a scroll with the words 'Dato et retribuam.' In the distance a lame man is represented, approaching the door of the hospital. Legend—



  • 1. After the Reformation it was always called 'Christ's Hospital, Sherburn,' or simply 'Sherburn House.' In Reg. Palat. Dun. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 1224, Pat. 10 Edw. II, pt. 1, and elsewhere, it is spoken of as the 'Hospital of S. Mary Magdalene of Sherburn'; the mistake may have arisen from a confusion between Mary Magdalen and Mary of Bethany, or from the fact that there was an altar of St. Mary Magdalen in the hospital.
  • 2. Allan, Collections relating to Sherburn.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Reg. Palat. Dun. ii, 1289.
  • 5. Allan, Coll.
  • 6. Wills and Invent. (Surt. Soc.), i, 8.
  • 7. Surt. Hist. Dur. i (2), 128.
  • 8. Reg. ii, Eccles. Dun. fol. 324.
  • 9. Surt. Hist. Dur. i (2), 128.
  • 10. Close, 12 Edw. II, m. 27 d.
  • 11. Dur. Epis. Reg. Hatfield, fol. 140 d.
  • 12. Allan, Coll.
  • 13. Dur. Epis. Reg. Langley, fol. 244.
  • 14. Ibid. Fox, fol. 46.
  • 15. Ibid. fol. 39d.
  • 16. Allan, Coll.
  • 17. In the list of hospitals in Bishop Tunstall's Epis. Reg. 1530, the value is given as £100.
  • 18. Surt. Hist. Dur. i (2), 132.
  • 19. Dur. Epis. Reg. Barnes, fol. 19.
  • 20. Printed in extenso, Surt. Hist. Dur. i (2), 135.
  • 21. Account of Christ's Hospital, Sherburn, by H. A. Mitton, M.A., p. 11.
  • 22. Allan, Coll.
  • 23. G. S. Faber, Master of Sherburn, 1850. MS. note in the margin of Mr. Longstaffe's copy of Surtees' Hist. i (2), 127, &c. Now in the library of the Dean and Chapter of Durham.
  • 24. Ibid.
  • 25. Allan, Coll.
  • 26. Wills and Invent. (Surt. Soc.), i, 6.
  • 27. Allan, Coll.
  • 28. Ibid.
  • 29. Reg. Palat. Dun. ii, 1224.
  • 30. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 31. Reg. Palat. Dun. iii, 275.
  • 32. Dur. Epis. Reg. Bury (in Reg. Hatfield), fol. 5.
  • 33. Ibid. Hatfield, fol. 129.
  • 34. Ibid. fol. 142.
  • 35. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. Pat. 12 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 21.
  • 38. Ibid. m. 12.
  • 39. Ibid. m. 22.
  • 40. Ibid. m. 24.
  • 41. Ibid. m. 18.
  • 42. Ibid.
  • 43. Wills and Invent. (Surt. Soc.), i, 51n.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. Ibid.; Dur. Epis. Reg. Langley, fol. 41.
  • 46. Dur. Epis. Reg. Langley, fol. 41 d.
  • 47. Ibid. fol. 79 d.
  • 48. Ibid. fol. 134.
  • 49. Ibid. fol. 204 d.
  • 50. Allan, Coll.
  • 51. Dur. Epis. Reg. Fox, fol. 48.
  • 52. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 53. Ibid.
  • 54. Allan, Coll.
  • 55. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 56. Ibid.
  • 57. Ibid.
  • 58. Ibid.
  • 59. Surt. Hist. Dur. 1 (2), 131.
  • 60. Allan, Coll.
  • 61. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 62. Dur. Epis. Reg. Barnes, fol. 1 d.
  • 63. Ibid. fol. 19.
  • 64. Allan, Coll.
  • 65. S.P. Dom. Addend. Jas. I, xxxix, No. 50.
  • 66. Dur. Epis. Reg. Neile, fol. 54.
  • 67. Ibid. fol. 92.
  • 68. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 69. Allan, Coll.
  • 70. Ibid.
  • 71. Ibid.
  • 72. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 73. Ibid.
  • 74. Ibid.
  • 75. Ibid.
  • 76. H. A. Mitton, Account of Christ's Hospital, p. 10.
  • 77. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 668.
  • 78. Ibid.
  • 79. Ibid.
  • 80. Ibid.
  • 81. H. A. Mitton, ut supra, p. 18.
  • 82. Engraved on title-page of Allan's Coll.