Hospitals: Hospitals in Stamford

A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.

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'Hospitals: Hospitals in Stamford', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 163-165. British History Online [accessed 21 April 2024]

In this section


On the south side of the bridge of Stamford stood a hospital dedicated to St. Giles. The first mention of it occurs in a confirmation charter of all their possessions granted to the abbey of Peterborough by Richard I. on 5 December, 1189. 'St. Giles Hospital,' says Mr. Peck, writing in 1727, 'stood where now the Spital house stands, at the upper end of St. Martin's, and had formerly a fair chappel belonging to it, with lands to maintain a capellan and several poor lepers, but who the founder was I cannot learn.' (fn. 1)

King John gave 5 acres of land to the hospital of lepers at Stamford, that is to say the hospital of St. Giles. (fn. 2)

The hospital of St. Giles is also named as belonging to Peterborough Abbey in the general confirmation charter of 1227. (fn. 3)

On 25 December, 1303, the abbot of Peterborough gave to William Poncyre the wardenship of the hospital of the blessed Giles without Stamford, for life, on condition that he should supply the chantry in the chapel of St. Giles three times a week, repair and sustain the buildings, and support the rest of the hospital duties as of old accustomed. (fn. 4)

On four different occasions in the first half of the fourteenth century we read of indulgences granted to this small lazar-house for the construction or repair of its hospital or chapel, by Bishop Dalderby in 1304, (fn. 5) and Bishop Burghersh in 1320, 1321, and 1332. (fn. 6) No further references of a later date relative to this hospital have been discovered.


At the south, or Northamptonshire, end of the bridge of Stamford, stood the hospital of St. John Baptist and St. Thomas the Martyr. It was founded towards the end of the reign of Henry II. by Siward, Brand de Fossato, Richard de Humet, and Bertram de Verdun, all of whom are named in the confirming charter of Richard I., cited in an inspection grant of Henry III. (fn. 7) The hospital was, as was usual with such institutions, on the confines of a town, for the double purpose of relieving poor strangers as they passed by with beer, meat, and lodging, and for the constant subsistence of certain of the local poor. (fn. 8)

King Richard, on 21 April, 1190, when at Samur in Normandy, confirmed to this hospital, first the site of the ground whereon it was built; secondly, the house and chapel founded by Siward; thirdly, the lands and possessions given by Brand de Fossato; and, lastly, the meadow at the south end of the bridge, given by Richard de Humet and Bertram de Verdun for the building of a church with a churchyard. (fn. 9)

A final concord was entered into in 1194 between Akard, brother of this hospital, and the abbot of Peterborough, concerning the advowson, etc., of the church. Akard, on behalf of the prior and brethren, recognized that the lordship and advowson of the hospital pertained to the abbot and convent of Peterborough, with the assent of the palmers of the town of Stamford, by whose alms the hospital was sustained. The charters of the hospital were to be placed by the brethren and palmers in a chest in the hospital, under two locks, one to be kept by the abbot, and the other by the prior of the hospital. They were not to alienate anything without the abbot's assent. The brethren were to make profession in the abbey church to the abbot, saving the right of a silver mark annually to the nuns of St. Michael, as an acknowledgement of the benefit of cemetery rights. (fn. 10)

William Humet, constable of Normandy and lord of Stamford, was a benefactor to this hospital in the reign of John. (fn. 11)

The hospital became subject to the great monastery of Peterborough, in whose hands the appointment of the master rested. In the confirmation grant to that abbey of all their possessions in 1227, Henry III. confirmed to it all the lands, mills, churches, etc., on 'this side' the bridge of Stamford, making particular mention of this hospital. (fn. 12) In the same year the king granted the master of this hospital 20 loads of dead wood for his hearth, out of the wood of Duddington. This grant was repeated in 1229, when the master was termed a prior. (fn. 13)

The appointment of Hugh de Sancto Martino as master was confirmed by the bishop in 1294. (fn. 14) In April, 1299, Hugh de Clisseby, (fn. 15) master of the hospital of St. John Baptist and St. Thomas of Canterbury, at the bridge foot, held also the vicarage of All Saints, Stamford. The house had been reduced to such poverty by his mismanagement that he petitioned Abbot William of Woodford for leave to resign. His resignation was not accepted, but he was temporarily suspended, and the custody of the hospital was assigned to Robert, rector of the church of Northbury, who was to endeavour, with the counsel of Hugh, to put the house in a more flourishing state. In August of the same year Hugh was restored to the mastership, and the books, jewels, and other effects of the house, in the chamber, hall, cellar, kitchen, and bakehouse, formally re-delivered to his custody. (fn. 16)

Soon after Hugh de Clisseby was re-admitted to the wardenship Abbot William died, and was succeeded by Abbot Godfrey of Crowland. The new abbot soon had cause of complaint against the master; he was charged with neglecting to say mass in the chapel; with giving very inconsiderable alms to the poor and strangers; with subtracting half a mark from the salary of Robert Wodefoul, a lay brother, whose business it was to relieve the sick and poor under the master. He was also accused of retrenching the lamps of the chapel and the lights of the house, and of either selling, giving away, or suffering himself to be tricked out of certain valuable relics pertaining to the hospital. The chapel was in a scandalous condition, and various rooms intended for the sick and poor travellers were locked up and turned into store-rooms for the warden's goods. Abbot Godfrey visited in person, found the statements true, and at once deposed the master. Thereupon Hugh applied to Bishop Dalderby, and obtained letters of supplication from him and from the archdeacon of Stow and Sir John de Scaleby. On their entreaty, and on Hugh's promise of amendment—taking oath under seal to submit to such reformation in the affairs of the hospital as the abbot should award—the old master was readmitted on Easter Eve. The abbot thereupon decreed that all the income, whether revenue or offerings, should be divided into three parts; one for a chantry priest to celebrate in the chapel, and perform all other necessary offices for the sick and poor strangers, and to buy lights, vestments, and other ornaments, which office Hugh was himself to perform; the second part for Robert Wodefoul, to provide necessaries for the sick and poor; and the third part for the support of the master's household. The lamps and lights were to be maintained; the relics recovered; the chapel and all rooms to be kept clean and sweet. On any breach of these articles another master to be at once appointed. (fn. 17)

Bishop Burghersh in 1323, and again in 1336, granted indulgences to those assisting in the maintenance of this hospital. (fn. 18)

Bishop Gray made an order in 1434 as to rights of burial in the hospital cemetery. (fn. 19)

The masters of this house were not presented to the bishop for institution, but were directly collated by the abbots of Peterborough. On 14 February, 1445, Robert Wymbysh had conferred on him 'the full wardenship and government of the hospital of the blessed St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas the Martyr, unto our collation and appointments belonging,' by Abbot Richard Ashton. Wymbysh had for some time acted as coadjutor to John Combe, the aged master, who then resigned on a pension. (fn. 20) On 12 February, 1448, John Westgate was collated by the same abbot to the mastership. (fn. 21)

In the course of the fifteenth century this hospital seems to have ceased its benefits, and at the last only the chapel or church remained as a benefice for the master or chaplain. The Valor of 1535 mentions the Free Chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr on the bridge, and states the annual value as £7 15s. 6d. (fn. 22)

The commissioners of 2 Edward VI. gave the income of 'Seinte John baptist Free Chappell apon Stameforde Bridge' as £9 16s. 5d., adding the following:—

'Memorandum: that sythe the survey taken by vertu of the Commyssyon, one John Stodderd hathe brought before the kinges Majesties Commyssyoners Dyvers Evydences proving the same to be an hospitall, And requyrethe that the Certificate made before the Commyssyoners may be Frustrated and avoyded; but forasmuche as yt hathe not byn used as an hospitall in releving the pore, but the Revenues and proffyttes thereof hathe byn convertyd only to the use of Thomas Stodderd, son of the seyd John, being an infant of the age of 13 or 14 years, Towards his exhibicion at Schole as yt is seyd, The Commyssyoners hathe Commyttyd the Determynacion thereof to this honorable Courte.' (fn. 23)


In the general confirmation grant of Richard I. to the abbey of Peterborough, of 5 December, 1189, among the possessions on the Northamptonshire side of Stamford there is mentioned their right to the patronage of a religious house called St. Sepulchre's.

'As for S. Pulchers,' wrote Mr. Peck in 1723, 'where it was situate, any further than that it stood on the south side of the river, I am not able to fix; and likewise as much to seek about the founder. By the name, however, it appears that it was an house of canons regular, of the order of the holy sepulcher, whose business was here to receive and entertain all such pilgrims and knights of the holy sepulcher as passed by out of the north, on their journey towards Jerusalem.' (fn. 24)

Dr. Tanner thought that in this respect Mr. Peck was in error, and conjectured that 'the house was rather an hospital than a priory.' (fn. 25) In the confirmation charter to Peterborough by Henry III. in 1227, 'the house' of St. Sepulchre is again named, and placed in the charter between the 'hospital' of St. John and St. Thomas, and the 'hospital' of St. Giles. (fn. 26)

We have not been able to find any later mention of this house; it was probably but a small establishment, and became absorbed by the great abbey.


  • 1. Peck, Annals of Stamford, vi. 2, 3.
  • 2. Ibid. vii. 12.
  • 3. Close, 11 Hen. III. pt. 1, m. 20.
  • 4. Cott. MS. Vesp. E. xxii. f. 77b.
  • 5. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. of Dalderby, f. 69d.
  • 6. Ibid. Memo. of Burghersh, ff. 24, 45, 247.
  • 7. Chart. R. 33 Hen. III. m. 2.
  • 8. Peck, Annals of Stamford, v. 11.
  • 9. Ibid. vi. 8, 9.
  • 10. Soc. of Antiq. MSS. lx. f. 151b.
  • 11. Peck, Annals of Stamford, vii. 11.
  • 12. Chart. R. 11 Hen. III. pt. 1, m. 19.
  • 13. Close, 12 Hen. III. m. 15; 14 Hen. III. m. 20.
  • 14. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. of Sutton, f. 112.
  • 15. Probably the same as Hugh de Sancto Martino.
  • 16. Cott. MS. Vesp. E. xxii. ff. 30, 41.
  • 17. Cott. MSS. Vesp. E. xxii. ff. 51–3.
  • 18. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. of Burghersh, ff. 124, 344b.
  • 19. Ibid. Memo. of Gray, i. f. 156b.
  • 20. Peck, Annals of Stamford, xiv. 19.
  • 21. Ibid. xiv. 21.
  • 22. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 143.
  • 23. Chant. Cert. No. xxxv.
  • 24. Peck, Antiquities of Stamford, vi. 2, 3.
  • 25. Tanner, Notitia, Linc. lxxiii. 12.
  • 26. Charter R. 11 Hen. III. pt. 1, m. 19.