Alien Houses: Hospital of St Anthony

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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'Alien Houses: Hospital of St Anthony', 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 19 July 2024].

'Alien Houses: Hospital of St Anthony', 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 19, 2024,

"Alien Houses: Hospital of St Anthony". 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. 19 July 2024.

In this section



The brothers of St. Anthony of Vienne established a cell before 1254 on some land given to them by Henry III, in a place previously occupied by a synagogue. (fn. 1) In the bull of Pope Alexander V confirming the grant the place is not further described. The hospital of St. Anthony when mentioned later was certainly in the parish of St. Benet Fink, but this seems too far removed from the Jewry to contain a synagogue. Either the brothers changed their quarters afterwards or at one time the Jews spread beyond the Jewry, and it is possible to give this interpretation to an order of Henry III, 1252–3, that there should be no synagogues except where they existed in the reign of John. (fn. 2) The house was founded for a master, two priests, a schoolmaster, and twelve poor men, (fn. 3) but there appears to have been no endowment, for in 1291 their whole property (fn. 4) which lay in the parish of St. Benet Fink was not worth more than 8s. a year, (fn. 5) so that they must have depended entirely on alms. Of the income derived in this way one source was sufficiently curious. Any pig that was considered by the supervisor of the London market unfit to be killed for food had a bell attached to it by a proctor of St. Anthony's, and was then free of the street to pick up what it could. As it was a merit to feed these animals, they often throve, and were then taken by the house. (fn. 6) The privilege seems to have been abused, for in 1311 Roger de Wynchester, the renter of the house, promised the City authorities that he would not claim pigs found wandering about the City, nor put bells on any swine but those given in charity to the house. (fn. 7)

It is not improbable that the brothers were in greater need of money than usual, as they were building their chapel in 1310. (fn. 8) Over the erection of this oratory they had involved themselves in a quarrel with the bishop of London, whose rights they had disregarded in neglecting to ask his leave to build. The case came before the court of Arches, and the brothers not appearing, judgement was given in August, 1311, that the chapel was to the prejudice of the bishop and of the parish church of St. Benet Fink, and was to be reduced to the form of a private house within eight days on pain of greater excommunication. The brothers now found it expedient to give way, and the proctor submitted to the will and ordinance of the bishop.

During the wars with France and the schism the hospital was cut off from intercourse with the parent house. The warden, Geoffrey de Lymonia, was excused by Clement VII, the antipope, in 1380, from the contributions due to Vienne, which he had been unable to pay for three years because he could get nothing from his preceptory, (fn. 9) so that either Geoffrey had never obtained actual possession or the house had been taken for a time into the king's hands. (fn. 10) In 1385 it was paying a yearly fine of twenty marks. (fn. 11)

It is clear that when the preceptorship became vacant the king would not allow Clement's candidate to take possession, (fn. 12) and in 1389 he put in as warden one of his clerks, John Macclesfield. (fn. 13) Boniface IX agreed to confirm him in the office if he took the habit within three months, but on his failing to do so gave the hospital to one of the canons. (fn. 14) However, at the king's request, the pope afterwards allowed Macclesfield to hold the house for ten years in commendam, enjoying all its privileges and exemptions. (fn. 15)

The hospital was now practically a royal free chapel and this may account for the benefits conferred on it by Pope Boniface IX. In 1392 he granted 100 days' remission of penance to those who during seven years visited the house of St. Anthony on the chief festivals connected with our Lord, the Virgin Mary, and St. Anthony, and gave alms to the fabric of the chapel and the maintenance of the sick and poor. (fn. 16) In the same year he gave to the hospital the issues of the church of All Saints, Hereford, and the annexed chapel of St. Martin, which had been given to the house at Vienne in 1249 by Henry III. (fn. 17)

The pope in 1400 at Macclesfield's request appropriated to St. Anthony's the church of St. Benet Fink, (fn. 18) the advowson of which had been given shortly before by John Sauvage and Thomas Walington. (fn. 19) This grant, however, can have been of no effect, for in 1417 a dispute of long standing between the hospital and the rectors of the church, touching the oblations claimed by the latter from the chapel of St. Anthony, was settled by the brethren agreeing to give the rector and his successors a pension of six marks. (fn. 20) It was not until 1440 that St. Benet's was appropriated to the hospital by the bishop of London for the maintenance of the grammar school. (fn. 21) The pope had, also owing to Macclesfield's representations, in 1397 issued a mandate to the bishops of England and Ireland, ordering them to recommend to the people of their dioceses those seeking alms for the hospital, and not to extort anything from them or hinder them in any other way. (fn. 22) The importance of these collections will be seen when it is remembered that they were by far the largest means of support possessed by the house. In 1391 the hospital had been excused from a liability incurred by a former warden 'in consideration of its having no possession temporal or spiritual of much value, nor anything but the alms of the people for the maintenance of divine service, the support of the sick and the repair of the house.' (fn. 23)

From his dealings with the pope Macclesfield might be judged a zealous advocate of the cause of his preceptory. It is evident, however, that his motives were not disinterested, since Adam de Olton, presumably his successor, informed Pope Martin V that he had alienated much of the property of the house and granted pensions to his children, and other persons, and in 1424 the pope ordered the bishop of Winchester to annul such alienations as should be found unlawful. (fn. 24)

It may be presumed that any damage done to the finances was set right, for five years later the master acquired a messuage and garden and some land adjoining from the abbot of St. Albans to enlarge the buildings of the house and make a garden and cemetery. (fn. 25) There were then fourteen priests and clerks there, and many poor and sick who had to be lodged elsewhere.

A bull of Pope Eugenius IV in December, 1441, exempting the brothers from eating in the refectory and sleeping in the dormitory, shows that the new buildings for the convent were not yet finished. (fn. 26) Henry VI, in June of that year, describes the house as wretched and almost desolate, reduced to the very verge of poverty, although it was under the rule of his vigilant and prudent chaplain, John Carpenter. (fn. 27) The brothers doubtless found it none too easy to meet their extraordinary as well as ordinary expenses, yet it seems strange if the house were so very poor that it is never the first consideration in the grants made to it.

It was for the maintenance of the school that St. Benet Fink was appropriated, and in 1442 the king granted to the brethren the manor of Pennington with pensions in Milburn, Tunworth, Charlton, and Up-Wimborne, co. Southants, to maintain at Oxford University five scholars, who were to be first instructed in the rudiments of grammar at Eton College. (fn. 28) The bequest of William Wyse in 1449 of his brewery, 'Le Coupe super le hoop,' in the parish of Allhallows London Wall, was also charged with the maintenance of a clerk to instruct the children of St. Anthony's in singing to music and plain singing, besides the usual celebrations for the testator's soul. (fn. 29) It would be interesting to know whether there is a connexion between the teaching of music at St. Anthony's and the establishment by the king's minstrels there of a fraternity in 1469. (fn. 30)

The hospital had come into the king's possession (fn. 31) under the Alien Priories Act of 1414, and was treated henceforth as a royal free chapel: Henry VI appointed the wardens, (fn. 32) and Edward IV on two occasions (fn. 33) gave the right to present on the next vacancy of the house. The connexion with the house at Vienne probably ceased after the fourteenth century. The employment of the use of Sarum had been authorized in 1397, as the brothers were unable to obtain the books necessary for the celebration of service according to the rule of their order, (fn. 34) and in 1424 the pope ordered them to celebrate service after the use of London as long as the wars lasted, because few or no canons having come for many years from Vienne, the custom of the order could not be easily observed. (fn. 35) The popes evidently acquiesced in the change in the position of the hospital, for Pope Eugenius IV, at the request of Henry VI, gave leave in 1446 to the bishops of Worcester and Norwich, the provost of Eton and William Say, the warden, to make statutes for St. Anthony's, London, (fn. 36) and Pope Nicholas V in 1447 exempted the hospital from all spiritual and temporal jurisdiction, especially from that of the monastery of St. Anthony, Vienne. (fn. 37)

The independent existence of the hospital was not of long duration, as it was annexed and appropriated to the college of St. George, Windsor, in 1475. (fn. 38) It must have been quite prosperous at that time, since the sum total of its receipts in 1478–9, viz. £539 19s., exceeded its expenses by £96 4s. 10d. (fn. 39) From the accounts it may be gathered that the surplus was not obtained by stinting the inmates of food. (fn. 40)

The church was rebuilt in 1499 on the old site, to which other ground had been added, (fn. 41) and rededicated in July, 1502. (fn. 42) To this work the principal contributor was Sir John Tate, a London alderman, who gave both land and money. (fn. 43)

It is interesting to compare the list of wages paid in 1522 (fn. 44) with that in 1545: the first shows that there were then in the house besides the master, four priests, a steward, the curate of St. Anthony's, a schoolmaster, a master of the song-school and seven other clerks, an usher of the school, and a butler; in 1545, those receiving stipends were two priests, the steward, the schoolmaster, a clerk for the mass of Our Lady, the curate of St. Benet Fink, and the sexton. (fn. 45) Provision was still made at the latter date for the twelve poor men, but evidently it was no longer a place where the sick were cared for: probably this work was given up when the best part of the hospital's income was cut off, (fn. 46) for although an agent of St. Anthony's was raising money as late as 1537 by collecting offerings and selling hallowed bells for cattle, (fn. 47) such efforts must soon have been abandoned. St. Anthony's pigs still existed in 1525, (fn. 48) but by this time they too may have disappeared.

The income was then only £55 6s. 3d., and fell short of the expenditure by £40 11s. 11d. (fn. 49)

The hospital was despoiled, not by the crown, but by a prebendary of Windsor named Johnson, who gave the almsmen a weekly pension of 1s. each, and turned them out of their houses: (fn. 50) as the accounts of 1565 make no mention of commons, it is evident that this event had already taken place. (fn. 51) The church was let in Elizabeth's reign to French Protestants. (fn. 52)

The property of the hospital in 1565 (fn. 53) comprised the manors of 'Esehall,' (fn. 54) 'Walens,' and 'Fryslyng,' which figure in the hospital accounts at a much earlier date as 'Esthall,' 'Valance,' and 'Thyrstelyng,' (fn. 55) and land called 'Jurdens land' in co. Essex; the rectories of All Saints and St. Martin in the city of Hereford, in the possession of the house since 1392 (fn. 56); a tenement in Winchester, another in Portsmouth, tenements in London, among them being three tenements near the school, and the capital messuage, called 'Lady Tate's House,' then in the tenure of Sir Henry Sydney and the rectory of St. Benet Fink.

Masters of St. Anthony's Hospital

Reymund de Basterneys (?), (fn. 57) occurs 1287
John, occurs 1311 (fn. 58)
Geoffrey de Lymonia, occurs 1380 (fn. 59)
John Savage, occurs 1382 (fn. 60)
Richard Brighous, occurs 1385 (fn. 61) and 1389 (fn. 62)
John Macclesfield, appointed 1389, (fn. 63) occurs 1417 (fn. 64)
Adam de Olton, appointed 1423, (fn. 65) occurs 1424 (fn. 66)
John Snell, appointed 1431, (fn. 67) occurs 1432 (fn. 68)
John Carpenter, S.T.P., occurs 1434, (fn. 69) 1440, (fn. 70) resigned 1444 (fn. 71)
Walter Lyhert, appointed 1444 (fn. 72)
William Say, S.T.B., occurs 1446, (fn. 73) 1449, (fn. 74) and 1463 (fn. 75)
Peter Courtenay, appointed 1470 (fn. 76)
Richard Surlond, occurs 1499 (fn. 77) and 1501–2 (fn. 78)
Roger Lupton, occurs 1509–10 (fn. 79)
John Chambre, occurs 1521–2 (fn. 80)
Anthony Baker, occurs 1545 (fn. 81)


  • 1. The bull of Pope Alexander V referring to the grant belongs to that year. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, Reg. Denton, fol. 267. For the information contained in the documents at Windsor I am indebted to Mr. Leach, who kindly placed his notes at my disposal.
  • 2. a Close, 37 Hen. III, m. 18, given in Tovey, Anglia Judaica, 146.
  • 3. Harl. MS. 544, fol. 72.
  • 4. In Blomefield, Hist. of Norf. viii, 118, there is mention of a grant of 40 acres of land and 10s. rent in Felbrigge to the Hospital of St. Anthony of Vienne, in 1273–4, but in the Taxatio of Pope Nicholas nothing is said of a holding there.
  • 5. Harl. MS. 60, fol. 16.
  • 6. Stow, Surv. of Lond. (ed. Strype), ii, 120.
  • 7. Sharpe, Cal. of Letter Bk. D, 251.
  • 8. Doc. of D. and C. of St. Paul's, Liber A. fol. 94 and 94b.
  • 9. Cal. Pap. Letters, iv, 240.
  • 10. Tanner, Notit. Mon. says that it was often seized during the wars with France.
  • 11. Cal. of Pat. 1381–5, p. 553.
  • 12. In 1386 Clement VII speaks of Avallonus Richardi who had been appointed by him to the preceptory of London vacant by the death of Geoffrey de Lymonia as being unable to get possession. Cal. Pap. Letters, iv, 254. Richard Brighous was master in 1385. Cal. of Pat. 1381–5, p. 553.
  • 13. Cal. of Pat. 1388–92, p. 124.
  • 14. Cal. Pap. Letters, iv, 419.
  • 15. Ibid. iv, 430. As he still held the house, however, in 1417 the time must have been extended. Cal. of Pat. 1422–9, p. 156.
  • 16. Denton Reg. fol. 289.
  • 17. Ibid. fol. 290.
  • 18. Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 311.
  • 19. Cal. Rot. Chart. and Inq. a.q.d. (Rec. Com.), 354.
  • 20. Cal. of Pat. 1422–9, p. 156.
  • 21. Lond. Epis. Reg. Gilbert, fol. 183.
  • 22. Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 18.
  • 23. Cal. of Pat. 1388–92, p. 389.
  • 24. Denton Reg. fol. 303; Cal. Pap. Letters, vii, 373.
  • 25. Cal. of Pat. 1422–9, p. 517.
  • 26. Denton Reg. fol. 314.
  • 27. Corres. of Bekynton (Rolls Ser.), i, 235.
  • 28. Stow, Surv. of Lond. (ed. Strype), ii, 120.
  • 29. Sharpe, Cal. of Wills, ii, 524.
  • 30. Cal. of Pat. 1467–77, p. 153.
  • 31. In 1409 Pope Alexander V had attempted to put in as master a canon of Vienne, but John Macclesfield still held the post in 1414. Cal. Pap. Letters, vi, 162; Cal. of Pat. 1422–9, p. 109.
  • 32. See letters patent in Harl. MS. 6963, fol. 24, 68, 116.
  • 33. Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), v, 526b.
  • 34. Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 4.
  • 35. Cal. of Pap. Letters, vii, 373. Adam de Olton, then master, was styled, however, canon of the monastery of St. Anthony, Vienne. Cal. of Pat. 1422–9, p. 108.
  • 36. Reg. Denton, fol. 317.
  • 37. Ibid. fol. 318.
  • 38. Cal. of Pat. 1467–77, p. 115. After this the post of master was given to one of the canons of Windsor.
  • 39. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, St. Anthony's Hospital Accts. xv, bdle. 37, No. 15.
  • 40. The accounts for 7 Oct. 1494, were as follows:— In herbs, ½d.; in veal to stew at dinner, 10d.; in ribs of beef to roast at dinner, 21d.; in 3 qrs. of mutton for all the house at supper, 20d. On Easter Day, 1495, the sum of 17s. 8d. was expended in four lambs for all, seven capons for the hall, 100 eggs, two green geese for the master at dinner, eighteen chickens, six rabbits for the master at supper, half a 'veal' for the poor men and children at dinner and supper, and 3 gallons of red wine and claret. Ibid. xv, bdle 37, No. 21. 29 Sept. 1501, the meat for broth cost 4d.; twentyfour geese for the hall at dinner, 13d.; lamb for the poor and children, 7d.; 'fyschmen' in the hall for all the day, 7d.; four rabbits for the hall at supper, 8d.; mutton for the poor, 6d. Ibid. xv, bdle. 37, No. 25.
  • 41. Stow, op. cit. ii, 120.
  • 42. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, St. Anthony's Hospital Accts. xv, bdle. 37, No. 25.
  • 43. Stow, op. cit. ii, 220.
  • 44. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, Accts. of St. Anthony's Hospital, xv, bdle. 37, No. 33.
  • 45. Harl. MS. 544, fol. 72.
  • 46. It seems probable, however, that the work had ceased before, for in the hospital accounts from 1494 onward there appears to be no mention of sick persons, while the entries about the poor men are frequent.
  • 47. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xii (1), 934. Letter of Charles Wynfelde to Cromwell, saying that the vicar of Kimbolton had managed almost to suppress the old opinions in his parish, when Harry Cleipulle brought letters under the king's broad seal to collect for St. Anthony's, and the people thinking it was according to the king's wish, offered to the cross and bought the bells Cleipulle had for sale. For the dean of St. George's letter of attorney to Cleipulle, see Anct. D. (P.R.O.), A. 12452.
  • 48. Rec. of Corp. of Lond. Repert. vi, fol. 101b. The steward of St. Anthony's was to be warned to appear before the next Court of Common Council and show the agreement made between the City and the house concerning St. Anthony's pigs.
  • 49. Harl. MS. 544, fol. 72.
  • 50. Stow, op. cit. ii, 120.
  • 51. Doc. of D. and C. of St. Paul's, A. Box 77, No. 2057.
  • 52. Stow, op. cit. ii, 120. The rent was £4 a year in 1584. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, Accts. of St. Anthony's Hospital, xv, bdle. 37, No. 76.
  • 53. Doc. of D. and C. of St. Paul's A. Box 77, No. 2057.
  • 54. There is a manor of Easthall in the parish of Bradwell. Morant, Hist. of Essex, i, 377.
  • 55. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, St. Anthony's Hospital Accts. xv, bdle. 37, No. 4. The document is not dated, but some of the proctors occur in the accounts of 1478–9. Ibid. xv, bdle. 37, No. 15. Valance in this is said to be in the parish of Dagenham. There is a place called Frestling in the parish of Butsbury, see Morant, op. cit. ii, 49.
  • 56. See note 16.
  • 57. Sharpe, Cal. of Letter Bk. A, 105, n. 1. Dr. Sharpe says he may have been the master of St. Anthony's priory in Cornwall.
  • 58. Doc. of D. and C. of St. Paul's, Liber A, fol. 94b.
  • 59. Cal. of Pap. Letters, iv, 240.
  • 60. Harl. Chart. 50 D. 59. He is called procurator.
  • 61. Cal. of Pat. 1381–5, p. 553.
  • 62. Memoranda K. R. Hil. 12 Ric. II.
  • 63. Cal. of Pat. 1388–92, p. 124.
  • 64. John, commander, master, and governor, makes a grant at that date, see Inspeximus, 1423, Cal. of Pat. 1422–9, p. 156.
  • 65. Ibid. p. 108.
  • 66. Cal. of Pap. Letters, vii, 373.
  • 67. Harl. MS. 6963, fol. 24.
  • 68. Sharpe, Cal. of Wills, ii, 475.
  • 69. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, Denton Reg. fol. 306.
  • 70. Lond. Epis. Reg. Gilbert, fol. 183.
  • 71. Harl. MS. 6963, fol. 68.
  • 72. Ibid.
  • 73. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, Denton Reg. fol. 317.
  • 74. Sharpe, Cal. of Wills, ii, 524. He was confirmed in his office in 1461 by Edward IV. Cal. of Pat. 1461–7, p. 11.
  • 75. Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), v, 520b.
  • 76. Pat. 49 Hen. VI in Harl MS. 6963, fol. 116.
  • 77. Doc. of D. and C. of St. George's, Windsor, St. Anthony's Hospital Accts. xv, bdle. 37, No. 23.
  • 78. Ibid. No. 35.
  • 79. Ibid. No. 27.
  • 80. Ibid. No. 33.
  • 81. Harl. MS. 544, fol. 72.