Hospitals: St Thomas, Southwark

A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1909.

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'Hospitals: St Thomas, Southwark', in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark, ed. William Page( London, 1909), British History Online [accessed 24 July 2024].

'Hospitals: St Thomas, Southwark', in A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Edited by William Page( London, 1909), British History Online, accessed July 24, 2024,

"Hospitals: St Thomas, Southwark". A History of the County of London: Volume 1, London Within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark. Ed. William Page(London, 1909), , British History Online. Web. 24 July 2024.

In this section


Within the precincts of the monastery of St. Mary Overy there was a building appropriated to the use of the sick and the poor, which maintained certain brethren and sisters.

This adjunct of the priory is said to have been founded by St. Thomas of Canterbury, and after his canonization was called by his name. (fn. 1) At the time of the disastrous fire of 1213 this building was much damaged; Amicius, who was archdeacon of Surrey from about 1189 to 1215, was then custos or warden of the hospital. The canons at once erected a temporary building for the reception of the poor at a little distance from the priory, and within its chapel they held their own services whilst the priory was being rebuilt.

Meanwhile Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, disliking the situation, added to the endowment of the hospital, and built a new house, which, though still in Southwark, was on a site where the water was purer and the air more healthy. (fn. 2) This new hospital, which was also dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr, was completed by 1215.

In 1215 an indenture was made between Martin, prior of the church of St. Mary Southwark, and the canons of that place, and Amicius, archdeacon of Surrey, warden of the hospital of St. Thomas Southwark, and the brethren thereof, whereby the former granted that the brethren and sisters of the old hospital of St. Thomas might transfer themselves into the new hospital of the like dedication (which had been founded as the property of the church of Winchester, and was free from all subjection to the church of St. Mary), together with all their goods, rents and lands, saving the lands which the prior and canons had always retained to their own use, to wit, the whole land of Melewell or Milkwell in Camberwell and Lambeth, with the place of the old hospital and the whole of the garden in Trinity Lane, which Ralph Carbonel sold to the old hospital quit of all demand on the part of the warden and brethren against the said canons. In exchange for the land of Melewell, the canons gave the brethren 13s. rents in Southwark. The canons also granted that the market for corn and other goods, which used to be at the doors of the old hospital, should be transferred to the doors of the new hospital. They also provided that the old hospital (in ruins from the fire), on the withdrawal of the brethren and sisters, be shut up for ever, on condition that the canons might build whatever they liked on the plot, except a hospital, and they bound themselves that never hereafter should another hospital be built by them in the public street of Southwark. All writings that had been obtained from the pope or king pendente lite were to be surrendered, so that every occasion of litigation might be taken away. (fn. 3)

There is a large paper chartulary of this hospital, consisting of 321 folios, at the British Museum, which was drawn up about the year 1525. (fn. 4) It is not quite complete, and lacks unfortunately the first leaf. It begins at the top of the page, which is lettered fundacione with the end of an episcopal charter of confirmation of the grant of the tithe of hay in all his lordships made by Reginald de Brettyngherst to the brothers and sisters of the hospital. The first charter recited in full is a brief confirmation by Bishop Peter des Roches. This is followed by a grant of a cemetery and burial rights to the hospital by the prior and convent of St. Mary Southwark, under certain restrictions.

The hospital agreed not to have more than two bells weighing 100 lb. in their bell-tower (campanario), and to pay 6s. 8d. yearly to the priory and 12d. yearly at Easter to the vicar of St. Mary Magdalen. Burial was to be granted not only to all such as died within their own precincts, but also to all others who might desire it, and who were not parishioners of either St. Mary Magdalen's or St. Margaret's. This concession by the priory was obtained by the interference of Peter des Roches, who was bishop of Winchester from 1205 to 1238. (fn. 5)

A later instrument, however, given in the chartulary shows that the rector of St. Margaret's, as well as the vicar of St. Mary Magdalen's, secured 12d. a year by this agreement as to the cemetery, and the subsidy of the priory was reduced from 6s. 8d. to 2s. (fn. 6)

In 1238 the warden and brethren granted to Luke, archdeacon of Surrey, a hall in the chapel, stable and other appurtenances within the hospital precincts, for life, for his own occupation. He covenanted for himself and successors that they should not by virtue of this grant claim any authority, jurisdiction, property, or succession in the same to the damage of the warden and brethren. The archdeacon in 1249, under the title of Luke de Rupibus, papal sub-deacon, released to the hospital all his dwelling rights. (fn. 7)

All archidiaconal rights of visitation were ceded to the hospital, so that no archdeacon of Surrey nor his official could exercise any kind of jurisdiction over any persons, regular or secular, within the hospital in any causes, civil or criminal. The brethren or their commissary had sole cognizance of all such matters, and also had the proving of the wills of persons dying within their precincts. For these concessions the house paid an annual pension of 5s. 4d. to the archdeacons of Surrey at Easter. Nevertheless the hospital was not strictly a peculiar, for the bishop claimed and exercised powers of visitation. (fn. 8)

The following are the chief grants to the hospital in the earlier part of the thirteenth century cited in the chartulary: Alice de Chalvedon, widow, granted circa 1235 all her lands in Chaldon; in consideration whereof Adam de Merton and the brethren agreed to find her a suitable bed within the hospital for life, with all reasonable necessaries such as would suffice for two sisters of the house, and to her maid as to one of the maids of the house; she was also to have 5s. 6d. a year for her clothing and fuel, but to demand nothing else. (fn. 9) Everard de Caterham gave lands and 2s. rent at Caterham; (fn. 10) John de Marlow, clerk, gave mills and osier beds at Marlow, in Buckinghamshire, (fn. 11) and Richard de Clare earl of Hertford, and his son, Gilbert de Clare, lands worth £20 a year and quit-rents in the manor of Marlow. (fn. 12)

A commission was issued in November 1276 to inquire into the complaint of the brethren of the hospital, that Ralph le Aumoner and many others, claiming authority from Nicholas, bishop of Winchester, and asserting that the custody of the hospital belonged to the bishop, entered without leave of the brethren, and consumed and wasted the possessions, victuals, and other goods of the hospital. (fn. 13)

There was a considerable dispute at the time of the election of Richard de Hulmo as master in 1295, the bishop claiming the sole appointment, but eventually he compromised matters by nominating the choice of the brethren. (fn. 14)

In 1299 Isaac the Jew conveyed a house to the hospital, and that his grant might hold good, instead of a seal, he subscribed his name in Hebrew characters according to the Jewish custom. (fn. 15) On 18 April 1305 licence was granted to the master and brethren to acquire in mortmain 8 acres of land in Charlton by Greenwich from Robert de la Wyke; 4 acres of land in Combe and Greenwich from Ranulph, vicar of Greenwich; and 1½ acres of land in the latter places from John and William, sons of William le Flemyng, all for the maintenance of the poor and infirm within the house. (fn. 16)

Licence upon fine was obtained in June 1309 for the alienation in mortmain to the master and brethren of this hospital of yearly rents to the value of 28s. 2½d. in Beddington and Bandon, the gift of Walter de Dynesle, clerk, and of a messuage in Southwark, the gift of William de Hameldon, chaplain. (fn. 17)

In the following year there was a large bequest under similar licence, by Simon de Stowe, of a messuage and various plots of land in Beddington, Bandon, Mitcham, Southwark, and Newton for the sustenance of the poor in the hospital; (fn. 18) and again in 1311, by Walter de Huntingfield, of a mill, a messuage, 4 tofts, 63 acres of land, 3 acres of meadow, and 6s. (fn. 19) of rents. In 1313 there was further bequest by Dulcia le Drapere of a messuage and 8 acres of land in Beddington. (fn. 20)

Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, granted in 1314 to the master and brethren of the hospital the advowson of the church of Blechingley, in exchange for all lands and tenements which they held in the town of Beddington, Bandon, Woodcote, Mitcham, and Croydon, and for the mills that they held in the parish of Marlow, Bucks. In the following year they obtained licence to appropriate the church of Blechingley. (fn. 21)

In June 1321 Stephen de Bykleswade, master, and the brethren and sisters, in consideration of the great benefits they had received from Henry de Bluntesdon, almoner to the late King Edward, ordered a daily mass at the Lady Altar for the said king and for Henry and his parents and benefactors. (fn. 22)

In February 1323 Bishop Asser, after visitation, gravely admonished the master of the hospital as to the irregular lives led by the brethren and sisters. (fn. 23) It was then ordered that they should all follow the rule of St. Augustine, and that the master should eat with the brethren. (fn. 24)

On 1 December, 1326, the bishop of Winchester granted to the master and brethren of this hospital, for the health of the souls of himself, his parents, Adam le Chaundeler and Joan his wife, and for the support of the sick poor resorting to the hospital, lands in Wimbledon, which he had acquired jointly with John de Windsor, his clerk, of the gift of Joan Chaundeler. This grant received royal confirmation in 1329. (fn. 25)

Stephen de Bykleswade's administration as master seems to have been careless, as he was several times suspended and the custody of the house assigned to others; but in February, 1330, he was formally reinstated by the bishop, and continued in office until March, 1338. (fn. 26)

This hospital, like almost every English religious house, suffered sadly at the time of the Black Death. In 1349 Walter de Marlowe, brother of the hospital, sought and obtained dispensation from illegitimacy at the hands of Pope Clement VI, in order that he might be appointed prior or master. The petition stated that the mortality amongst the brethren had left no one so fit to rule as the said Walter. (fn. 27) In 1350 a chantry was established in the Lady chapel for the soul of Ralph Nonley of Halstead. (fn. 28)

In 1357 the hospital presented an interesting petition to Pope Innocent VI, and obtained that which they sought. It was stated therein that the hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr, founded in Southwark by the saint himself, was resorted to by such numbers of the poor and sick that the master, brethren, and sisters of the rule of St. Augustine could not support their charges without alms; they therefore prayed for an indulgence of two years and eighty days to those who visited the hospital at Christmas, Easter, the feasts of the Blessed Virgin and St. Peter and St. Paul, and on Good Friday, and who lent a helping hand to the hospital. (fn. 29)

Henry Yakesley was appointed master by Bishop Edendon in 1361. The election devolved on the bishop owing to the death of all the brethren save one, but a special reservation of the future right of the brethren was entered. (fn. 30)

In January, 1372, the bishop deputed three commissioners to visit the hospital. (fn. 31)

Nicholas de Carrew paid the king 20s. in 1379 for licence to alienate to the master and brethren six messuages, three shops and one garden in Southwark; one messuage and 2 acres of land in Lambeth; five cottages and I acre of meadow in Bermondsey Street—in exchange for the manor called 'Freresmanoire,' a water-mill, and two gardens in Beddington, Croydon, Mitcham, and Carshalton. (fn. 32)

On the death of William de Welford in 1381 the bishop, as patron of the house, committed the custody to John Okeham and Robert Eton, the only two of the brethren then living. (fn. 33) During the vacancy on 9 December, 1381, the bishop sent a letter to the two custodians instructing them to admit Thomas Gouday, chaplain, to the fraternity. (fn. 34) On the same day Brothers Okeham and Eton invited the bishop to appoint to the mastership, whereupon the bishop delegated John de Bukyngham, canon of York, to admit Gouday as master, who took the oath of canonical obedience on 13 December.

Licence was granted to Edmund Halstede on 2 July, 1385, to have mass said in the chapel within the graveyard of the hospital until fifteen days after Michaelmas. (fn. 35)

The bishop gave notice of a personal visitation of the hospital on 28 June, 1387.

In 1388 Thomas, the master, and the brethren were charged with having appropriated to themselves a piece of ground outside their church, formerly common to the men of Southwark for selling and buying corn and other merchandise, and with stopping up a king's highway called 'Trynet Lane'; but it was found on inquisition that the hospital had enjoyed these premises since the time of King John, when the house was built. (fn. 36)

At the time of the death of Thomas Gouday on 17 December, 1392, there were four brethren of the house in addition to the master, namely, John Okeham, Thomas Sallow, Henry Grygge, and John Aylesbury. The bishop as patron and diocesan granted them on 18 December licence to elect; but the brethren on the following day devolved their right on the bishop and asked him to nominate. Wykeham's choice fell on Henry Grygge, and he was duly appointed on 15 January, 1393. (fn. 37)

It appears that Grygge sold some of the possessions of the house contrary to his oath to Bishop Wykeham, (fn. 38) and in 1399 he withdrew into foreign parts, when the custody of the hospital was committed to John Aylesbury, one of the brethren. (fn. 39) On 25 February, 1401, William Sharpe made his profession as a brother of the hospital. On the morrow the bishop renewed the custody to John Aylesbury, and issued a citation for Grygge to appear. (fn. 40) In December following Grygge received papal absolution. (fn. 41) Whether he ever returned to take up the duties of the office of master does not appear, but in July, 1414, John Reed, a brother of the house, was elected and confirmed as master. (fn. 42)

In 1436 the hospital of Sandon in this county, being greatly reduced in revenue, was united to this house. (fn. 43)

A letter from Sir Thomas More to Wolsey, dated 16 March, 1528, mentions the hospital of Southwark, and that the master was old, blind, and feeble. Though in the gift of the bishop of Winchester, the king was informed that Wolsey, as legate, might appoint a coadjutor, and he would like to have the same for his chaplain, Mr. Stanley. The king had two reasons for asking this: first, that Stanley was a gentleman born; and secondly, if he could get rid of him he would like to have a more learned man in his place. (fn. 44)

Very shortly after this, namely, on 20 May, 1528, aged Richard Richardson resigned his office, being allotted a pension of 40 marks. (fn. 45) Richard Mabbot was elected his successor on 22 May.

On 26 September, 1535, Richard Layton, the monastic visitor, wrote to Cromwell to the effect that he was going to visit the exempt monastery of Bermondsey, Southwark, and 'the bawdy hospital of St. Thomas' on his return out of Kent. (fn. 46) Layton's epithets and general language were usually coarse and often untrust worthy, but in this case his reference to the hospital seems justified, for master Mabbot was undoubtedly lax in discipline and bad in personal character.

The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 gave the clear annual value of the hospital at £309 1s. 11d., of which sum only £42 4s. was spent on the poor and infirm. There were at this time three laysisters—originally the sisters were also professed and of the Austin rule—and there were forty beds for the poor.

A complaint was addressed by certain parishioners of St. Thomas's Hospital to Sir Richard Longe and Robert Acton in July, 1536, against the master and brethren of the hospital, accusing them of maintaining improper characters within the precincts, refusing charitable relief to those in sickness, and even to those willing to pay— insomuch that a poor woman great with child was denied a lodging and died at the church door, while rich men's servants and lemans were readily taken in—refusing baptism of a child till the master had 3s. 4d., and other irregularities. The master was charged with often quarrelling with the brethren and sisters even in the quire of the church, of which strange instances were cited. As to the services in the church they complained that the usual three or four sermons in Lent had not been given, they had often scant two masses in a day, and they had been forced sometimes to seek a priest about the Borough to sing high mass. Moreover, the master had put down the free school formerly kept within the hospital, although there is £4 a year for its maintenance, was guilty of 'filthy and indecent' conduct, openly kept a concubine, claimed to be 'lord, king, and bishop' within his precincts, and sold the church plate, pretending it was stolen. The names of nine witnesses were appended to these grave allegations. (fn. 47)

On 4 July, 1538, Robert More, one of the priests of the hospital, confessed before Robert Acton, justice of the peace, that before the robbery of church plate the master sold two silver parcel-gilt basins, a silver holy-water stock and 'spryngyll,' a pair of parcel-gilt silver candlesticks, a parcel-gilt silver censer, and a pair of parcelgilt silver cruets. He delivered £5 to Robert as his portion. The master was robbed of as much plate as would go into a half-bushel basket. The master consulted the brethren about selling his house at Deptford Strand. More said if he did so he would sore offend his prince. The master bade them do as he commanded, and so they sold it deceitfully to John Asspele, proctor of the arches. (fn. 48)

An indenture was made in July, 1538, between the king and Richard Mabbot, the master, and the brethren, whereby the hospital exchanged their manor of Sandon by Esher with the parsonage of Esher, for the parsonages of Much Wakering, and of Helion Bumpstead, Essex. (fn. 49)

On 23 December, 1539, Thomas Thurleby, clerk, the last master, was presented to St. Thomas's Hospital, in the place of Richard Mabbot deceased. But this appointment could only have been made (fn. 50) with the idea of effecting a quiet surrender, for on 14 January, 1540, Thomas Thurleby, together with Thomas Ladde and Thomas Cowyke, surrendered the hospital and all its possessions to the king. (fn. 51)

Priors, Masters, Wardens or Rectors of The Hospital of St. Thomas, Southwark

Archdeacon Amicius, (fn. 52) occurs 1213, 1215
Adam de Merton, occurs 1235
Thomas de Codeham, occurs 1248, 1251
Fulcher, elected 1261
Adam II
Richard de Bikleswade, resigned 1283 (fn. 53)
Richard de Bikleswade, (re-elected), died 1295
Richard de Hulmo, 1295 (fn. 54)
Walter de Marlowe, 1316 (fn. 55)
Stephen de Bykleswade, occurs 1321, 1338 (fn. 56)
William de Stanton, occurs 1338, 1342
Walter de Marlowe, appointed 1350, 1351 (fn. 57)
John de Bradewyn (Bradeway), appointed 1356 (fn. 58)
Henry Yakesley, appointed 1361, (fn. 59) died 1377
William de Welford, appointed 1377, (fn. 60) died 1381
Thomas Gouday, appointed 1381, died 1392 Henry Grygge, appointed 1393, (fn. 61) occurs 1401
John Reed, appointed 1414, (fn. 62) died 1427
Nicholas Bokeland, appointed 1427, (fn. 63) resigned 1447
William Crosse, appointed 1447, (fn. 64) resigned 1478
William Beele, appointed 1478, (fn. 65) resigned 1487
John Burnham, appointed 1487, (fn. 66) died 1501
Richard Richardson, appointed 1501, (fn. 67) resigned 1528 (fn. 68)
Richard Mabbot, appointed 1528, died 1539
Thomas Thurleby, appointed 1539, (fn. 69) surrendered 1540
The pointed oval seal (fn. 70) of this house represents a priest celebrating mass before an altar with a chalice on it. Legend:



  • 1. Cal. Pap. Letters, i, 304.
  • 2. Ubi aqua est uberior et aer est sanior. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 457. The date given for this translation of the hospital in these Annals is 1228, which is clearly wrong, as Amicius is mentioned as archdeacon of Surrey, a post he did not hold after 1215. There is also a mistake in the previous date of the fire, which is given as 1207 instead of 1213.
  • 3. Pat. 33 Edw. I, pt. 1, m. 2. At that date there was an inspection and confirmation of a chirograph of 1215.
  • 4. Stowe MS. 942.
  • 5. Ibid. fol. 2.
  • 6. Ibid. fol. 4.
  • 7. Ibid. fol. 4, 4b.
  • 8. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 5, 6, 330.
  • 9. Ibid. fol. 292–3.
  • 10. Ibid. fol. 309.
  • 11. Ibid. fol. 313–14.
  • 12. Ibid. fol. 315 &c.
  • 13. Pat. 4 Edw. I, m. 3 d. There is no entry pertaining to the hospital in the taxation rolls of 1291.
  • 14. Winton Epis. Reg. Pontoise, fol. 52; Stowe MS. 942, fol. 106.
  • 15. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 106.
  • 16. Pat. 33 Edw. I, pt. 1, m. 6.
  • 17. Ibid. 2 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 3.
  • 18. Ibid. 4 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 22.
  • 19. Ibid. 4 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 18.
  • 20. Ibid. 6 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 4
  • 21. Ibid. 8 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 13.
  • 22. Winton Epis. Reg. Reynolds, fol. 352, m. 6b.
  • 23. Ibid. Asser, fol. 20b.
  • 24. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 330.
  • 25. Pat. 3 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 32.
  • 26. Winton Epis. Reg. Stratford, fol. 9, 12, &c. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 280, 307.
  • 27. Cal. Pap. Petitions, i, 165; Cal. Pap. Letters, iii, 330.
  • 28. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 31–2, 324.
  • 29. Cal. Pap. Petitions, i, 304.
  • 30. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 330.
  • 31. Winton Epis. Reg. Wykeham, iii, fol. 626.
  • 32. Pat. 2 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 19.
  • 33. Winton Epis. Reg. Wykeham, 1, fol. 119.
  • 34. Ibid. i, 126.
  • 35. Ibid. iii, fol. 218.
  • 36. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 181.
  • 37. Winton Epis. Reg. Wykeham, i, fol. 224–5.
  • 38. Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 497.
  • 39. Winton Epis. Reg. Beaufort, iii, fol. 315.
  • 40. Ibid. iii, fol. 331.
  • 41. Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 497.
  • 42. Winton Epis. Reg. Beaufort, iii, 51–2; Stowe MS. 942, fol. 330.
  • 43. Winton Epis. Reg. Waynflete, ii, fol. 57.
  • 44. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, 4080.
  • 45. Winton Epis. Reg. Fox, v, fol. 156b.
  • 46. L. and P. Hen. VIII, ix (1), 44.
  • 47. Ibid. xi, 168.
  • 48. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), 1323.
  • 49. Ibid. xiii (1), 1348.
  • 50. Ibid. xiv (2), 780 (37).
  • 51. Dep. Keeper's Rep. viii, App. ii, 41.
  • 52. The names and dates of the masters are all taken from the Chartulary (Stowe MS. 942), unless otherwise stated.
  • 53. Winton Epis. Reg. Pontoise, fol. 2.
  • 54. Ibid. fol. 52; Stowe MS. 942, fol. 106; Cal. of Pat. 1292–1301, pp. 135, 146.
  • 55. Canterbury Archiepis. Reg. Reynolds, fol. 18b.
  • 56. Ibid. Stratford, fol. 9, 12, &c.; Stowe MS. 942, fol. 280, 307.
  • 57. The appointment of Walter de Marlowe seems to have been upset by his illegitimacy.
  • 58. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 330.
  • 59. Ibid.
  • 60. Winton Epis. Reg. Wykeham, i, fol. 83.
  • 61. Ibid. i, fol. 224–5.
  • 62. Ibid. Beaufort, iii, fol. 51, 52; Stowe MS. 942, fol. 330.
  • 63. Stowe MS. 942, fol. 330.
  • 64. Ibid.
  • 65. Winton Epis. Reg. Waynflete, ii, fol. 57. He resigned from age and infirmities.
  • 66. Ibid.
  • 67. Ibid. Fox, i, fol. 12b.
  • 68. Ibid. v, fol. 156b.
  • 69. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (2), 780 (37).
  • 70. B.M. Seals, lxv, 78.