Hospitals: Bidlington

Pages 98-99

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



There was a hospital for lepers at Bidlington early in the thirteenth century, and possibly sometime previous to that date, as a lawsuit of 1220 mentions that William, eldest son of Nicholas Malmains, becoming a leper while still under age, was consigned for two years to a certain 'maladria' in Bidlington. (fn. 1) That this church or chapel was dedicated in honour of St. Mary Magdalene is shown by a reference in 1259, when it is mentioned in the chartulary of Sele Priory; (fn. 2) it was evidently identical with the 'chapel for lepers outside Bramber' mentioned in 1227, as will be shown. On the other hand, Peter de Braose in 1305 asserted that Bidlington was a manor and no hospital in 1280 and for many years afterwards, until William, son of William de Braose, converted it into a hospital. Against this assertion, John de Benestede, who was then master, produced the bishop of Chichester's letters, saying that he found from the registers that his predecessor, Bishop Gilbert, had presented Simon, vicar of Horsham, (fn. 3) John de Brous, priest, and the said John de Benestede, in succession to the custody of the chantry of the hospital of the Blessed Mary at Bidlington. The master further produced letters of Ralph, formerly bishop of Chichester, testifying to the admission, on the presentation of John de Braose, of Ralph de Brembre to the chapel of the lepers outside Bramber, (fn. 4) and a charter of the same Ralph in which he, under the title of 'rector and master of the house and brethren of St. Mary of Bidlington,' leased certain land to Godfrey de Horsham. (fn. 5)

Probably, therefore, the hospital was originally founded by a member of the Braose family, and its endowment subsequently increased between 1280 and 1305 by William de Braose. However this may have been, it was so poor in 1320 that it was excused from contributing to the subsidy that year. (fn. 6) In 1366 Margaret Covert left 2s. to the poor of this hospital, but we hear no more of it until 1433, when it was in the hands of the duke of Norfolk. (fn. 7) Finally it appears in the Valor of 1535 as worth 20s. (fn. 8)


  • 1. Curia Regis R. 72, m. 18 d.
  • 2. Suss. Arch. Coll. x, 124.
  • 3. He occurs as master in 1298; Assize R. 1313, m. 2.
  • 4. The record of this admission, dated Jan. 1227, is entered in the Dean and Chapter's MS. 'Liber Y.'
  • 5. Coram Rege R. 180, m. 26.
  • 6. Suss. Arch. Coll. x, 124.
  • 7. Inq. p.m. 11 Hen. VI, 43.
  • 8. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 319.