Hospitals: St John Baptist, Barnard Castle

Pages 117-118

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


This hospital is said to have been founded in or about the year 1230 by the elder John Baliol, but the evidence is imperfect. (fn. 1) It was dedicated to the honour of St. John the Baptist, and was occupied by three poor women who received a pension in money and coals to pray for the soul of the founder. (fn. 2) Surtees describes the house as 'a low thatched building, containing one room only, called the bedehouse.' (fn. 3) In the fifteenth century, however, it possessed a church of its own, for in 1497 the pope granted an indulgence of a hundred days to all who attended 'the church of the said hospital' on the feasts of the nativity and beheading of its patron saint. This was done to aid the funds of the house, which were low at the time. (fn. 4)

The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1536 gives the clear value of the hospital as £5 9s. 4d. The list of its possessions at that time includes the site and house; land called Septem (or Sewinge) Flatts and a cottage; lands, pasture, &c. in Selby [Seleby]; rents in Hullerbush [Hullerbuske] and Ovington; a pension of £1 6s. 8d. from Rievaulx Abbey; and tithes from the mills of Barnard Castle, Gainford, and Bywell. The particulars given in the Commissioners' Report in 1594 agree in the main with the above, the pension of £1 6s. 8d. being then paid from the revenues of the dissolved abbey of Rievaulx.

The sole event in the pre-Reformation history of the hospital is a robbery of certain of its goods which took place in 1355, and was punished by the excommunication of the unknown marauders. (fn. 5)

Being a lay foundation (though the master was always supposed to be in holy orders), (fn. 6) the hospital continued to exist after the dissolution, and the patronage fell into the hands of the sovereign, as appendent to the manor of Barnard Castle. (fn. 7) In 1866 the property was put into the hands of trustees, and the hospital is now incorporated with the North Eastern County School. (fn. 8)

Masters of Barnard Castle Hospital

John de Mortham, d. or res. 1304 (fn. 9)

John de Horton, app. 1304

John de Harewood, occ. April, 1355 (fn. 10)

Christopher Hilton, occ. 1497 (fn. 11)

Richard Leigh, occ. 1536, (fn. 12) 21 March, 1557-8; (fn. 13) d. c. 1562 (fn. 14)

Edmund Treasurer, c. 1562 (fn. 15)

Christopher Jackson, app. by the Lord Chancellor, 17 December, 1596 (fn. 16)

John Chapman, occ. 1689 (fn. 17)

Peter Ferron, occ. 1705 (fn. 18)

Rev. E. Browell, D.D., occ. 15 July, 1756 (fn. 19)

Rev. A. Wood, M.A., app. 3 August, 1763 (fn. 20)

Rev. W. Lipscomb, app. 1783, d. 1842 (fn. 21)

Rev. J. Davidson, app. 1842, d. 1847 (fn. 22)

Rev. G. Dugard, app. 1847, d. 1865 (fn. 23)


  • 1. Surt. Hist. Dur. iv (1), 80; see Hutchinson, Hist. Dur. iii, 237.
  • 2. Surt. ut supra; see Arch. Aeliana (New Ser.), vi, 45.
  • 3. Hist. Dur. iv (1), 80.
  • 4. Indulgence, printed by Surt. Hist. Dur. iv (1), 121; possibly this church may be identified with the 'Bedekirk,' an old deserted chapel which stands at the head of Gallowgate, and the history of which is unknown.
  • 5. Dur. Epis. Reg. Hatfield, fol. 62.
  • 6. Arch. Aeliana (New Ser.), vi, 45.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Char. Com. Rep. 1902.
  • 9. This and the following name are given from information kindly supplied by E. Wells, esq.
  • 10. Dur. Epis. Reg. Hatfield, fol. 62.
  • 11. Surt. Hist. Dur. iv (1), 121.
  • 12. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.)
  • 13. Wills and Invent. (Surt. Soc.), i, 160.
  • 14. Arch. Aeliana (New Ser.), vi, 46.
  • 15. Ibid.
  • 16. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (ed. 1846), vi, 760.
  • 17. Char. Com. Rep. 1902, p. 2.
  • 18. Ibid.
  • 19. MS. Allan, 6, 2.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Char. Com. Rep. ut supra.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Ibid.