Hospitals: St Julian, or God's House, Southampton

Pages 202-205

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

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This hospital was founded for the poor, in the reign of Richard I., about the year 1197, (fn. 1) by Gervase le Riche, who was a burgess of Southampton and reeve of the town in 1185. According to an inquisition held in 1229, Gervase le Riche conferred the wardenship on his brother Roger. (fn. 2) The earliest charter now extant is a confirmation of the year 1197, by Richard I., of the considerable properties granted to the hospital by the founder, and renewed in 1198 owing to the former royal seal having been lost. (fn. 3) These gifts included a rent of two marks on the house known as West Hall, in which Gervase lived; eight houses and various plots of land in the town and suburb; a house and land at Portsmouth; his estate at Gussage in Dorsetshire, and lands in the Isle of Wight. (fn. 4) Shortly afterwards William de Chelegrave granted the whole land at Hickley, at an annual rent of five shillings, and by the annual service of a pair of gilt spurs and a pound of cumin; and William de Redvers, Earl of Devon, granted rights of pasturage and fuel, save for six weeks each year, over the land of 'Werole,' in the Isle of Wight, at a rent of two shillings, paying immediately, through Vincent, the warden, ten marks, and a pair of gilt spurs to Baldwin, the earl's son. (fn. 5)

About 1209, Roger son of Mark confirmed to the hospital, tor the support of the priests, brethren and sisters therein, and for the aid of the poor thither resorting, his father's gift of the whole land of 'Werole,' at a rental of six pence in lieu of service. (fn. 6)

Amongst the other muniments of the house preserved at Queen's College, Oxford, are charters of special protection from both John and Henry III.

Warden Robert de Knowell died about Christmas, 1285, whereupon Queen Eleanor, the king's mother, who held Southampton in dower for life, took possession of the hospital through her bailiffs, and conferred the wardenship on Robert le Stock. The Bishop of Winchester had however, shortly before this date, made good against the town his claim to the advowson in the Court of King's Bench. On hearing of the queen's action, the bishop, through the sheriff, ejected Warden Robert, and appointed in his place, on 3 January, 1286, John le Flemang. A few months later Warden John resigned, and on 11 July, 1287, the bishop issued his mandate for the induction of Richard de Multon. (fn. 7) This dispute was brought to trial at Westminster in Hilary term, 1290, before Gilbert de Thornton and John de Mettingham, the king's justices. The pleadings are extant, and are of considerable length and interest. The judgment was against the bishop, who had to pay £20 damages, and Robert le Stock, alias le Aumoner, was reinstated. (fn. 8)

The bishop, though defeated on technical grounds, was able to make out a good case. He was able to show from episcopal registers, now lost, that Bishop Peter des Roches (1205-44) appointed Warin, a canon of St. Denis, as warden, in succession to Vincent; that Bishop William de Raleigh (1244-60) appointed John Chilbaton, one of his chaplains, and afterwards Nicholas Rokeland; that Bishop John Gervais appointed William Chernbyne in 1262, and afterwards Robert de Knowell.

Warden Bluntesdon, a favourite of the king, seems to have been the first non-resident warden. The scandal of giving the chief emoluments of hospitals founded for the poor and infirm to men who rarely, if ever, visited the house over which they were supposed to preside, became, alas! the rule and not the exception. At God's House this procedure began about a century after its foundation, and was ever afterwards maintained. In 1297, when the see of Salisbury was vacant, the king gave Bluntesdon the archdeaconry of Dorset, which he held with this wardenship, as well as with other preferments, until his death in 1316.

In 1343 the king granted the custody of God's House to the recent foundation of Queen Philippa and Robert de Eglesfield at Oxford, the provost and scholars of Queen's Hall. By this charter the house with all its appurtenances and rights passed entirely to the hall or college, with the provision that the provost and scholars should sustain all that was required by the original foundation, and should use the surplus (if any) to provide a habitation for any of their scholars who might be afflicted with any incurable or chronic illness. The hall was to enter into possession immediately on the death or resignation of Robert de Eglesfield, the queen's chaplain, who then held the wardenship. After this date the wardens of God's House are identical with the provosts of Queen's Hall, Oxford. In 1347 the king repeated his former charter, stating therein that in consequence of so much of the hospital having been burnt by foreign invaders (1338), when its records were destroyed, relief for its depressed condition caused him to remit to the hospital and all its lands for ever every kind of toll, pontage, murage, passage, etc. This was confirmed in 1375 by Richard II., who also in 1385 exempted the hospital property in Hampshire from the payments of tenths and fifteenths for that turn. Other royal confirmations were granted in 1399, 1413 and 1429. (fn. 9) In 1346, in the assessment for making Edward the Black Prince a knight, it appears that the prior of God's House, Southampton, held half a knight's fee in Cosham. (fn. 10)

Among the muniments at Queen's College are not only the charters of God's House, but also a large number of household account rolls and rent rolls beginning with the time of Edward I. Of the earlier of these Mr. Riley gave in 1877 a long and most interesting analysis, as well as a summary of facts that they establish in connection with this house and its administration, to which we are indebted for the following particulars. (fn. 11)

In the time of the first two Edwards, the members of God's House consisted of a master or warden, two priests, a clerk, from two to three brothers, from three to nine sisters, three or more poor mendicants (paupers), and two or three indoor servants, such as cook, washerwoman or dairymaid, and various outdoor labourers, such as carters, ploughmen, and herdsmen of cattle, sheep and swine.

The building contained two halls, probably for the two sexes; chambers were assigned to the warden, which had a cellar beneath let to a tenant; the priests had also their chambers, and there were separate rooms for the brothers and sisters when in residence. It also seemed probable to Mr. Riley that the paupers lived in the house; judging from analogy it may be assumed that this was certainly the case. The duty of the senior of the two priests was to act as steward or sergeant of the house. The second priest, who had a lower stipend, was the chaplain; though later there was a third priest appointed as chaplain, and the two senior priests were styled the two sergeants.

The brothers occasionally paid handsomely for admission, as with a flock of sheep or money gifts. They were often made bailiffs or stewards of the different manors, and resided at Cosham or Warror in the Isle of Wight, or at Heckley near Southampton. Occasionally they took part in field labour, such as reaping and haymaking. The sisters, too, at times were engaged in winnowing. The sisters, in addition to their meals, received a farthing a day in lieu of clothing. The paupers, in addition to their board, received a farthing every other day; when working in the fields they received additional remuneration, chiefly in the form of shoes. No money payment to the brothers is ever mentioned in the accounts, but they had a liberal allowance of materials for clothing.

The warden, who absorbed the greater portion of the revenues, had a mansion or residence at Gussage in Dorset. Occasionally the accounts make mention of a warden residing at Salisbury, Winchester, Odiham, and even Wokingham in Berkshire. Brothers and servants of the house were frequently engaged in the laborious work of carrying wine, cider, ale, stores or provisions to various distant places where the warden for the time might be dwelling. The accounts also reveal that wardens now and again imposed their relatives (nepotes) on the hospital, receiving from it money, clothing, board and education.

In 1373, with characteristic energy, Bishop Wykeham proposed to visit God's House, as one of the most important hospitals in his diocese. When the notice was received by Queen's College as wardens, steps were at once taken to resist the bishop. On 27 June, the chancellor issued a prohibition to the bishop, in the king's name, on the ground that the hospital was held in free alms of the Crown by the provost and scholars of Queen's, and that therefore the Crown was visitor. This prohibition was duly entered in the bishop's register. (fn. 12)

In 1462, Edward IV. granted to the warden, chaplains and brothers of God's House the alien priory of Sherborne, with the object of securing the increase of divine worship within the hospital of St. Julian or God's House, and perpetual masses for the souls of the king and his successors, and for the souls of 'Richard late Duke of York, our father of famous memory, and of Richard, late Earl of Cambridge, our grandfather who lies buried within the hospital.' (fn. 13) The church or chapel of the house was dedicated to St. Julian, and hence the hospital itself occasionally went by that name. In 1463 the king inspected and confirmed to Queen's Hall the letters patent of Richard II. and the charter of Edward III. granting them the hospital. (fn. 14)

The Valor of 1535 affords interesting particulars as to the hospital. The gross revenue amounted to £140 13s. 10½ d. and included the manors of Cosham and Warror in the Isle of Wight, the manor of Heckley, tenements at Exbury and Hamley, a garden in Winchester, a great number of small tenements and rents in or near Southampton, and the property of Sherborne priory. The charges on the income included, in addition to a variety of payments at Monk Sherborne and dues to divers Southampton officials, £18 a year to the three priests (Geoffrey Rudde, Thomas Asheley and William Gy) appointed by the founder and Edward IV. to pray for the souls of the founders and others; £24 for the maintenance of six poor brethren and four poor sisters, in food, clothing and other necessaries; £20 for seven beggars indigent and infirm, beds and burial costs, etc.; and £28 for daily hospitality to wayfarers and strangers from beyond the sea, and daily distribution of alms at the gate. Beyond these deductions the commissioners also asked that the following expenses might be deducted: Commons and stipends of butler, cook and undercook, £9 6s. 8d.; stipend of barber, 8s.; stipend of washerwoman, 16s.; wax, wine and bread for the chapel, £1 13s. 4d.; utensils of hall, pantry and kitchen, £1 6s. 8d.; petty daily expenses, £18; average loss from unoccupied houses at Southampton, £6; fuel for hall and kitchen, £2 13s. 4d.; and travelling expenses and the like, on the business of the hospital, £3 13s. 4d. From all this it may be inferred that God's House, under the direction of Queen's College, was fairly carrying out the intentions of the founders, and soundly administering the funds.

According to the accounts of 1568-9, the senior priest was acting as steward, and 'the house was still celebrating the exequies of Edward IV. and Richard, Earl of Cambridge, of Master Pereson, and the founders generally, each at a cost of 4s.' (fn. 15) At the same time the cost of the pauper inmates (including eight brothers and sisters) was £41 12s. 0d.

The old domestic buildings of this house, which dated back in the main to its original foundation and were still substantial, were, grievous to relate, swept away by the college in 1861. In their place were erected the present 'somewhat feeble though more commodious buildings,' in two blocks. The eastern block accommodates four brethren, whilst the northern range is for the like number of sisters. The old gateway has been renewed, and the chapel of St. Julian 'restored' out of all semblance to antiquity. An account of the occupation of this church by a Walloon congregation has already appeared. (fn. 16)

Wardens of The Hospital of St. Julian or God's House, Southampton

Roger le Riche (fn. 17)
William Fulient
John Chilbaton
Nicholas Rokeland
William Chernbyne, 1262
Robert de Knowell, d. 1285
Robert le Stock or le Aumoner, 1285
John le Flemang, 1286-7
Richard de Multon, (fn. 18) 1287
Richard le Stock or le Aumoner, reinstated 1290 (fn. 19)
Roger de Estok, resigned in 1293
Henry de Bluntesdon, (fn. 20) 1293-1316
Gilbert de Wygeton, (fn. 21) 1316, 1332
Robert de Eglesfield, about 1343


  • 1. Pipe Roll, 9 Rich. I.
  • 2. Rolls of Parliament (Rec. Com.), i. 19.
  • 3. Hist. MSS. Com. iv. 451-2.
  • 4. Davies' Hist. of Southampton, p. 320.
  • 5. Hist. MSS. Com. iv. 453-4.
  • 6. Ibid. p. 452.
  • 7. Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, ff. 4, 5.
  • 8. Rolls of Parliament (Rec. Com.), i. 18-20; Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, ff. 191, 192.
  • 9. Pat. Rolls, under dates.
  • 10. Feudal Aids, ii. 339.
  • 11. Hist. MSS. Com. iv. 453.
  • 12. Winton. Epis. Reg., Wykeham, iii. f. 8.
  • 13. Pat. I Edw. IV. pt. 4, m. 13. The result of this was to grant the Sherborne estates to Queen's Hall. See the account of Sherborne Priory, p. 228.
  • 14. Ibid. 3 Edw. IV. pt. 3, m. 17.
  • 15. Davies' Hist. of Southampton, 461-2, citing an account penes Rev. L. L. Carrick.
  • 16. Supra, p. 75.
  • 17. Rolls of Parliament (Rec. Com.), i. 19.
  • 18. Winton. Epis. Reg., Pontoise, ff. 4, 5.
  • 19. Ibid. ff. 191, 192; Rolls of Parliament (Rec. Com.), i. 18-20.
  • 20. Pat. 21 Edw. I. mm. 15, 11.
  • 21. Ibid. 6 Edw. III. pt. 2, m. 7; Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 674.