Hospitals: Bath

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Hospitals: Bath', in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2, (London, 1911) pp. 152-153. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

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The hospital was founded in 1180 by Bishop Reginald of Bath (1174–91) for the sick and poor of the city in order that they might have the benefit of the waters. It was endowed with lands and tenements in Bath and with a tithe of hay from the bishop's demesne lands, and in 1331 (fn. 1) Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury granted to the warden and brethren a rent-charge of 100s. in lieu of the sheaves which they were wont to receive from the bishop.

There is a ratification by the Dean and Chapter of Wells (fn. 2) of a confirmation by Bishop William Button given at Dogmersfield 15 July 1260 of the act of the warden, Master Adam, and the brothers and sisters of St. John the Baptist's Hospital establishing a special service for their benefactor Canon William de Wethampsted, provost of Combe, to take place in the chapel of the hospital.

Hugh of Wells who died Bishop of Lincoln in 1235 left the hospital 7½ marks. (fn. 3)

On 9 June 1336 (fn. 4) Bishop Ralph granted an indulgence to all, otherwise qualified, who should aid the hospital of St. John the Baptist.

In 1417 Canon Richard Benton of Wells left 2s. 6d. to each brother being a priest of the hospital of St. John at Bath. In 1496 Thomas Chaunceler, citizen of Bath, left ' one torche ' to the hospital of St. John in Bath. (fn. 5)

In the Valor of 1535 the hospital of St. John the Baptist, with the chapel of St. Michael attached, was valued at £22 16s. 9d. John Symonds was the warden or master. (fn. 6) The hospital escaped the dissolution of monastic foundations, and in 1578 Queen Elizabeth gave the advowson of it to the Mayor and commonalty of Bath.

Leland says ' There is a Hospital of St. John hard by the Crosse Bathe of the foundation of Reginalde, bishop of Bathe.' (fn. 7)

In the Inventories of Chantries 1546, (fn. 8) the contents of the chapel of the hospital of St. John the Baptist, Bath, were valued on 17 March. ' John Symons, incumbent of St. John's chapel in the hospital of Bath.

'First a mass book valued at 8d. Item a pair of vestments valued at 8s. Item two bells valued at 6s. 8d. Total 15s. 4d.'

In the Survey of 1548 (fn. 9) the following account of the hospital is recorded.

'There is a hospital called St. John's Hospital within the said parish (i.e. St. Michael's), having lands, tenements, etc. thereunto belonging of the clear yearly value of £25 13s. 8d.

'The hospital was erected as it is said for the relief of six poor men, and one priest or master to serve them, having their continual living upon the same. This hospital is annexed to the parish church of St. Michael aforesaid, and the parson of the said church is master of the said hospital. The residue of the profits are employed and received by the said master.

'The ornaments of the hospital are esteemed worth 15s. 2d. No foundation deeds were shown, neither would the master appear.'

The hospital survived the Reformation, and some account of its later history may be found in the Report of Commissioners for enquiring into Charities, v, 283–92.

Masters of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, Bath

Adam, occurs 1260 (fn. 10)

Thomas Gosmale, appointed 1343 (fn. 11)

John Ashmeek, died 1398 (fn. 12)

John Shaftesbury, resigned 1428 (fn. 13)

Peter Byryman, appointed 1438, (fn. 14) resigned 1457 (fn. 15)

John Vobe, appointed 1460 (fn. 16)

Thomas Cornish, appointed 1483 (fn. 17)

John Symonds, occurs 1535 (fn. 18)


The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen of Holloway near Bath appears to have been founded before 1212, in which year Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, made a bequest to the lepers outside Bath. Nicholas, master of this hospital, occurs in 1263 and an undated deed in the Bath Cartulary (fn. 19) records a grant of land by John Wyssy to the master, brethren and sisters on condition that their chaplains should celebrate in his private chapel at Bath. Bishop Ralph in 1332 (fn. 20) granted an indulgence to those who supported the hospital of Holy Cross and St. Mary Magdalen at Bath, and it occurs from time to time as the recipient of legacies, Margery Brokworth in 1407 (fn. 21) desiring to be buried within its chapel.

The hospital survived the Reformation, but gradually became a sinecure, its endowments being diverted from their original purpose. (fn. 22)


  • 1. R. of Shrewsbury's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc.) 87.
  • 2. Cal. Wells D. and C. MSS. i, 144.
  • 3. Cal. Wells D. and C. MSS. i, 432.
  • 4. R. of Shrewsbury's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc.) 286.
  • 5. Somers. Med. Wills (Somers, Rec. Soc.), xvi, 89, 342.
  • 6. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) i, 178.
  • 7. Itin. ii, 61.
  • 8. Exch. K.R. Church Goods, 8/236.
  • 9. Green, Chantries (Somers. Rec. Soc.), 148.
  • 10. Cal. Wells D. and C. MSS. i, 144.
  • 11. R. of Shrewsbury's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc.) 493.
  • 12. Collinson, Somers. i, 125.
  • 13. Hunt, Two Chartul. (Somers. Rec. Soc.) ii,61.
  • 14. Wells Epis. Reg. Stafford, fol. 155.
  • 15. Ibid. Beckington, fol. 221.
  • 16. Ibid. fol. 261.
  • 17. Ibid. Stillington, fol. 113.
  • 18. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) i, 178.
  • 19. Cal. Wells D. and C. MSS. i, 432; Feet of F. (Somers. Rec. Soc.) vi, 197, no. 345.
  • 20. Somers. Rec. Soc. Publ. ix, 95.
  • 21. Ibid. xvii, 32.
  • 22. Bath Munic. Rec. 68.