A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1926.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
48. THE HOSPITAL OF CHATHAM
The hospital of St. Bartholomew, Chatham, by Rochester, is said (fn. 1) to have been founded by Gundulf, bishop of Rochester (1077-1108); and it was found by an inquisition (fn. 2) taken in 1444 that it belonged to the prior and convent of Rochester and that the king had no right in it.
Henry I by charter granted to the infirm of the hospital a livery of 1d. daily, and 10s. yearly which Alfer the falconer used to receive from the farm of Milton at the hands of the sheriff of Kent, and this grant was confirmed by Henry III. (fn. 3) This latter king also in 1246 granted to them livery of the 40;. yearly which Roger son of Stephen de Northwude used to render to them out of a land called Northwude within the hundred of Milton, and also a messuage by the market of Milton, pasture for one horse and two cows, and quittance from toll and team and lastage. (fn. 4)
In 1346 an inquisition (fn. 5) was taken concerning the hospital, and the net value of its possessions, described in detail, was found to be only £6 8s. yearly. There were in it nine brethren and seven sisters; and some of these were blind, one sister was epileptic, and the prior was a leper. The income of the hospital was evidently insufficient for their maintenance; and Edward III in 1342, 1344, and 1347 exempted them from payment of the wool tax. (fn. 6) In 1348 he granted to them exemption from taxation for ever; (fn. 7) and this was confirmed by later kings. (fn. 8)
Ademere Baldocke, late prior of the hospital, brought a suit in Chancery about 1473 against Edmond Saynt, late a brother of the hospital, for the restoration of evidences of the house. (fn. 9)
The possessions of the hospital are not given in the Valor of 1535, but there is mention of a payment of 6s. yearly made by the almoner of the cathedral to the brethren and sisters for the soul of Gundulf, bishop of Rochester. (fn. 10) In 1546 the gross income was said to be £3 10s. 1d. and the net income £2 9s. 11d. yearly; but it was noted that 40s. yearly, the price of certain corn accustomed to be paid at the hands of the farmer of the parsonage of Stoke, had been unpaid for nine years, and that 9d. for the farm of certain lands in Frindsbury likewise remained unpaid. (fn. 11)
King James I on 13 July, 1619, made a grant of the hospital to nominees of James, Viscount Doncaster; but the dean of Rochester, as patron of the hospital, objected that the crown had no right in it; and after a long fight the hospital was saved, though at a heavy expense. (fn. 12)
In 1837 the Charity Commissioners reported that the institution consisted of five persons, viz. the patron or master, the office being held by the dean of Rochester for the time being without any specific appointment, and four brethren, two clerical and two laymen, who were appointed by the dean as vacancies occurred. Each brother received £27 yearly, and the dean the residue, and the property consisted of the old hospital, which was used as a chapel, and several premises mentioned in the rental, described in detail. (fn. 13)