Hospitals: St Cross, near Winchester

Pages 193-197

A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1903.

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The far-famed hospital of St. Cross, which still stands about a mile from Winchester, between the Itchen and the Southampton road, was founded about 1136 by Bishop Henry de Blois.

The small chartulary, or register of St. Cross, still extant, (fn. 1) gives copies of two bulls confirm ing the foundation of the hospital; one was granted by Innocent II. in 1137, and the other by Lucius II. in 1144. The charter of the founder delivered to Raymond, prior of the Knights Hospitallers, the hospital founded for the weal of his soul and those of his predecessors and the kings of England, and provided for the reception, clothing and entertaining of 'thirteen poor impotent men, so reduced in strength as rarely or never to be able to raise themselves without the assistance of another.' In addition to this a hundred other poor men of good conduct were to be entertained daily at dinner, and permitted, on departure, to take away with them the remnants of both meat and drink. (fn. 2) The first master mentioned, in a grant of Bishop Blois, was Robert de Limosia.

Serious disputes arose with respect to this hospital during the next episcopacy (Richard of Ilchester, 1174-88), between the bishop and the Hospitallers. At length, on 10 April, 1185, the Order formally gave up the management to the diocesan, (fn. 3) by which agreement the bishop undertook to provide daily for 200 men instead of the original 100. The chartulary shows however that the Order of Hospitallers did their best to recover the management, and actually obtained two papal awards in their favour of the years 1187 and 1189. In 1197, Pope Celestine III. commissioned the Bishops of London and Lincoln and the abbot of Reading to settle the dispute, and they gave their award in favour of the bishop. Nevertheless, only two years later King John again confirmed the hospital to the Hospitallers. (fn. 4)

The decision however of the papal commissioners was upheld, and in 1204 the Bishop of Winchester appointed a master, which right has since been maintained by the bishops down to the present day. The Hospitallers nevertheless clung to the muniments and records until 1379, when the energetic Bishop Wykeham obtained them from Prior Robert Hales. The prolonged dispute as to the valuable patronage of this hospital had seriously impeded the intentions of the founder, and delayed its completion. The great church was not finished until the year 1255, when special appeals were made for assistance. (fn. 5)

The gross mismanagement of this grandly conceived foundation, and the alienation of so large a share of its funds from the poor to wealthy pluralists, which made the mastership of St. Cross a scandal and a byword for full six centuries, began at an early date.

On 16 June, 1321, the Bishop of Winchester received orders from the king to induct the king's clerk, Geoffrey de Welleford, to the house of St. Cross, which he had deferred doing, although he had verbally admitted Geoffrey at the king's presentation; pretending that the house was filled by Robert de Maidstone, the king having ordered him to admit a suitable person notwithstanding the claim of the late Bishop of Winchester, because the king had recovered in his court the presentation by reason of the late voidance of that bishopric. (fn. 6) The obedient prelate duly inducted Geoffrey, for the second time, by proxy, on 26 June. (fn. 7) This was followed on 28 June by a more imperative order to the bishop, telling him to certify by the bearer if any further resistance should be offered; as the king was informed that when the bishop ordered his commissary to induct Geoffrey's proctor, the commissary found many persons at the house who actively resisted him so that he could not execute the order. (fn. 8) The resistance continued, and on 3 July the bishop made a third induction of Geoffrey, with a solemn warning to all who should resist. On 12 July the sheriff of Hampshire was ordered to take with him sufficient power of the county, and to go in person to the house of Holy Cross, and to the churches annexed thereto, and to remove all lay or armed force from the house and churches, and to put Geoffrey de Welleford in possession. He was further instructed to imprison any one resisting the execution of the order. In this mandate it was also recited that the sheriff's bailiff had reported that he visited the house on Friday after the Translation of St. Thomas to remove all lay or armed force, and that he found no force nor resistance, and therefore did nothing in the matter, 'at which answer the king marvels, especially as it is testified before him by trustworthy men that a lay and armed force was then and is still in the house of St. Cross, and that the bailiff's answer was made frivolously and derisively.' (fn. 9) The king's next step, in this determined assertion of his authority and rights, was to prohibit the archbishop from attempting anything prejudicial thereto. A further writ on the same subject was addressed to the archbishop on 23 October. (fn. 10) On 4 September a commission of oyer and terminer was granted on the complaint of Geoffrey de Welleford, that, after due induction, Robert de Maidstone, Nicholas his brother, and divers other persons, had taken and carried, of the hospital property, livestock to the value of £100, goods and chattels to a like amount, as well as charters and muniments. A second commission, dated 6 November, particularizes the missing property, and increases its value to the then great sum of £500. (fn. 11)

The bishop, on 9 February, 1322, issued a commission of inquiry relative to the dilapidation of St. Cross on the entry of Geoffrey de Welleford. (fn. 12) On 11 March, Geoffrey, by proxy, promised canonical obedience, as master of St. Cross, to his diocesan. (fn. 13) Geoffrey, who had been thus stormily thrust into this valuable mastership, died in August, 1322, having never apparently set foot in the diocese. Bishop Asserio was now able to make an appointment of his own; but it was no improvement on that of the king. His choice for this valuable and important preferment fell on his nephew, Bertrand de Asserio, a clerk of the diocese of Cahors. He was collated, inducted and instituted (by proxy) on 31 August, 1322, by his brother Gerald de Asserio, vicar-general, in the absence at the Roman court of the bishop. (fn. 14) There seems no reason to imagine that Bertrand ever saw the hospital of which he was the master, although he held it with a rectory in the diocese (Freshwater, Isle of Wight), and a prebend of Salisbury. In August, 1330, Bertrand, as warden of St. Cross, nominated attorneys to act for him, as he was going across the seas for two years. (fn. 15)

Provision of the hospital was made in 1333, by Pope John XXII, to Peter de Galliciano, void by the resignation of Bertrand de Asserio, who had exchanged it for other benefices out of England. (fn. 16) Meanwhile Bishop Stratford endeavoured to checkmate the papal appointment by sequestrating the hospital property on the ground of the blindness and inability of the new master, and there ensued a strife between ecclesiastical and civil authorities to the great bewilderment of the tenantry, (fn. 17) the sheriff being called upon in October, 1334, to assist Peter de Galliciano, the master, in levying rents due to him. (fn. 18)

In 1344, the bishop petitioned Clement VI., signifying that when the hospital of his collation was vacant, he made provision of it to William Edingdon, the king's treasurer, who restored the buildings and improved the condition of the poor therein, spending £1,000; but on the report that the late Peter de Galliciano, master of the hospital, was chaplain to Clement V., and that the hospital was therefore reserved to the pope, of which the bishop was ignorant, he prayed the pope to declare valid the appointment of William and all that he had done. To this the pope assented, and remitted the fruits he had received. (fn. 19) In the following year Edingdon became bishop, and the pope appointed Raymond Pelegrini, papal nuncio, to the mastership of St. Cross, which was declared to be worth £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 20) Raymond resigned in 1346, and was followed by Richard de Lusteshall and Walter de Wetwang; both of which appointments were brief and disputed.

In 1346 Bishop Edingdon appointed his nephew John Edingdon, a mere lad, to the mastership, who of course neglected all the duties pertaining to his office as grossly as his predecessors. (fn. 21) Provision was made in June, 1348, of the hospital by the pope, to William de Farlee, notwithstanding his holding canonries and prebends of Winchester, Romsey and Salisbury. (fn. 22) But in 1349 the bishop signified the pope that he had given St. Cross to John Edingdon, his nephew, who was under age, and already held two benefices, there being an ordinance in the foundation that it could be given to secular clerks; but that as it was reported that the pope had reserved the same before Richard's death, he prayed him to confirm the collation. The petition was granted.

In 1366, Edingdon, having stripped the hospital and its estates, resigned, soon after his uncle's death, and was followed, on exchange, by William Stowell, who in his turn exchanged the mastership in March, 1368, with Richard de Lyntesford, for the rectory of Burghclere. (fn. 23) In August, 1370, Lyntesford exchanged the mastership with Roger Cloun for the rectory of Campsall, Yorkshire. (fn. 24)

The scandals of St. Cross were now to be arrested. Bishop Wykeham was a very different diocesan to his predecessors. Stowell resigned on 22 March, 1368, and on the following day the bishop demanded of him an inventory of the stock received by him from Edingdon and handed over to Lyntesford. (fn. 25) The story is a piteous one; whilst episcopal and royal and papal nominees to this benefice were spending the hospital's incomes in their own selfish ways, the great hall had fallen in, the hundred poor were ejected from their daily meal, and the thirteen infirm inmates were turned away to seek shelter where they could.

From 1368 to 1375 Bishop Wykeham, with rare persistency, followed up the iniquities of the four living masters, and at last gained the victory. (fn. 26) On 6 January, 1375, Cloun made his submission to the bishop, and swore he would render an annual account to his diocesan whenever called upon to do so. (fn. 27) The bishop however was now strong enough to refuse the master any power of administration, and put in a relative of his own, Nicholas Wykeham, to superintend the affairs of the hospital. By this arrangement further peculation was prevented, the buildings began to be repaired, and the endowments mainly used for the poor. In 1382, Roger Cloun, the nominal master, died, and Wykeham appointed his great friend John de Campeden, rector of Cheriton, to the mastership. (fn. 28)

Wykeham's successor, Cardinal Beaufort (1404-47), with the consent of Thomas Forest, then master, and the brethren, added, in 1445, to the original foundation a hospital or almshouse of 'Noble Poverty,' the buildings of which were to be erected to the west of the church. (fn. 29) The troublous times and the triumph of the Yorkists prevented his intentions being carried out in his lifetime, and it was left to Bishop Waynflete to further to some extent the cardinal's intentions. The bishop procured an enabling charter in 1455, but it was not until 1486 that he carried out his plan and remodelled the statutes. (fn. 30) The cardinal's intended endowments were lost, so that the additional foundation, designed for two priests, thirty-five brethren and three sisters, was reduced to one priest and two brethren. Those of the new foundation wore a cloak of deep red with a cardinal's hat embroidered in white; whilst those of the old foundation retained the black cloak, with silver cross-potent, as ordained by the Hospitallers.

The Reformation made but little change at St. Cross. The hospital, though threatened in the time of Henry VIII., escaped confiscation. At a visitation held by Dr. Legh, as Cromwell's commissary, in 1535, it was directed that the thirteen brethren should receive sufficient meat and drink and not money in lieu thereof, and that the 100 men be daily fed, but sturdy beggars repulsed.

It was further ordained that some discreet and honest priest of the house should hear and teach the poor brethren the Our Father and the Creed in English, which they were to say together in the church before dinner; that the master was to have a library in the house which was to contain printed volumes of the Old and New Testaments and the works of Jerome, Augustine, Theophylact and others of the most ancient fathers; and that mass was to be said for the soul of the founder and for the good estates of the king and Queen Anne. (fn. 31)

In 1696, when Dr. Markland was master, it was alleged that all documents and registers pertaining to the hospital had been burnt, and a 'customary' (consuetudinarium) was drawn up by the master for its future management, and ratified by the bishop. When the scandals of the abuse of this charity were brought before the Queen's Bench in 1851, the judge in delivering judgment described this 'customary' as a 'barefaced and shameless document' and 'a wilful breach of trust.' He was equally severe on the nineteenth century continuation of the scandal. The present wholesome scheme was devised in 1855-7.

Masters of The Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester (fn. 32)

Robert de Limosia, 1136 ?
Roger, 1185
Alan de Sancta Cruse, (fn. 33) 1190
Alan de Stoke, appointed 1204
Henry de Cusia or Susa, (fn. 34) appointed 1241
Geoffrey de Fernyng, appointed 1250
Thomas de Colchester, appointed 1260
Stephen de Wotton, died 1275
Peter de Sancta Maria, archdeacon of Surrey, 1289-96
William de Welynger or Wendling
Robert de Maidstone, (fn. 35) 1305-20
Geoffrey de Welleford, (fn. 36) 1321-2
Bertrand de Asserio, (fn. 37) 1322-33
Peter de Galliciano, (fn. 38) 1333
William de Edingdon, High Treasurer of England, (fn. 39) 1335-45
Raymond Pelegrini, papal nuncio, (fn. 40) 1345-6
Richard de Lusteshall
Walter de Wetwang
John Edingdon, 1346-66
William Stowell, 1366-8
Richard de Lyntesford, (fn. 41) 1368-70
Roger de Cloune, (fn. 42) 1370-82
John de Campeden, (fn. 43) 1382-1426
John Forest, 1426-44
Thomas Forest, 1444
Thomas Chandler, warden of New College, 1463-5
William Westbury, provost of Eton, 1465
Richard Hayward, died 1489
John Lichfield, 1489-91
Robert Sherborne, 1491-1500 ?
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, 1500-17
John Claymond, President of Magdalene and Corpus Christi Colleges, appointed 1517
John Incent, appointed 1524 (fn. 44)
William Meadow, 1545
John Leefe, 1557
Robert Reynolds, 1557
John Watson, 1559
Robert Bennett, 1583
Arthur Lake, 1603
Sir Peter Young, 1616
William Lewis, 1627
John Lisle, 1649
John Cooke, 1657
Richard Shute, 1660
William Lewis, 1660
Henry Compton, 1667
William Harrison, 1675
Abraham Markland, 1694
John Lynch, 1728
John Hoadley, 1760
Beilby Porteus, 1776
John Lockman, 1788
Francis North, 1808
L. M. Humbert, (fn. 45) 1855
W. G. Andrewes, 1868


  • 1. Harl. MS. 1616; a thin 8vo volume.
  • 2. This charter is in Bishop Stratford's register (f. 186b), as well as in the chartulary. It has been rendered into English in the 37th Report of the Charity Commissioners, and reproduced in Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xi. 42.
  • 3. Harl. MS. 1616, f. 27.
  • 4. Charter Roll, John (Rec. Com.), 16.
  • 5. Harl. MS. 1616, ff. 10, 29.
  • 6. Close, 14 Edw. II. m. 2d.
  • 7. Winton. Epis. Reg., Asserio, f. 15.
  • 8. Close, 14 Edw. II. m. 1d.
  • 9. Ibid. 15 Edw. II. m. 13d.
  • 10. Cant. Archiep. Reg., Reynold, ff. 300, 301.
  • 11. Pat. 15 Edw. II. pt. 1, m. 15d.
  • 12. Winton. Epis. Reg., Asserio, f. 21b.
  • 13. Ibid. f. 22.
  • 14. Ibid. f. 18b.
  • 15. Pat. 4 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 10.
  • 16. Cal of Papal Letters, ii. 385.
  • 17. Winton. Epis. Reg., Stratford, f. 78.
  • 18. Close, 8 Edw. III. m. 10d.
  • 19. Cal. of Papal Petitions, i. 51.
  • 20. Ibid. i. 90.
  • 21. For the evil character of John Edingdon, and the manifold preferments conferred on him by his uncle, see Wilts Arch. Mag. xx. In 1368 he was cited to appear in the bishop's court for having embezzled the materials purchased by his predecessor for rebuilding the chancel of the church of Farnham, of which he was then rector.
  • 22. Cal of Papal Petitions, i. 131.
  • 23. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, i. f. 9.
  • 24. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, i. f. 25.
  • 25. Ibid. iii. f. 9a.
  • 26. Mr. T. F. Kirby has conveniently gathered all the instruments relative to this at the beginning of the 2nd vol. of Wykeham's Registers (Hants Record Series, 1899), pp. 28-59. See also Moberley's Wykeham, ch. v. and Harl. MS. 1616.
  • 27. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, iii. f. 103.
  • 28. Ibid. i. f. 131.
  • 29. Pat. 33 Hen. VI. pt. 2, m. 18.
  • 30. Winton. Epis. Reg., Waynflete, ii. f. 132.
  • 31. Woodward's Hist. of Hants, i. 235; and Humbert's Memorials of the Hospital of St. Cross, pp. 37, 38.
  • 32. Many of the names of the masters have been obtained from the register of the hospital (Harl. MS. 1616).
  • 33. Dean and Chap. of St. Paul, Charter 291.
  • 34. He was afterwards Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, and one of the most famous canonists of the middle ages.
  • 35. Cal. of Papal Letters, ii. 3. He also held two rectories and a canonry of Chichester. He was deprived in 12 June, 1321.
  • 36. Winton. Epis. Reg., Asserio, ff. 140, 15.
  • 37. Ibid. f. 18b.
  • 38. Cal. of Papal Letters, ii. 385. Provided by Pope John XXII. on the resignation of Asserio.
  • 39. Pat. 9 Edw. III. pt. 1, m. 28. Promoted to the see of Winchester in 1345.
  • 40. Cal. of Papal Petitions, i. 90. He resigned in 1346.
  • 41. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, i. f. 9.
  • 42. Ibid. f. 25.
  • 43. Ibid. f. 131.
  • 44. He was dean of St. Paul's from 1540 to 1545, during which time he still held the mastership of St. Cross (Letters and Papers, Hen. Vlll. xiv. [2] 310.) He was also master of God's House, Portsmouth.
  • 45. All pains have been taken with the list of masters. It is the fullest yet published. In some of the earlier instances there is a little doubt (see the lists in Woodward's Hants, i. 240-2, and Notes and Queries, 1st ser. x. 299, 473).