Hospitals: Holy Trinity, Salisbury

Pages 357-361

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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The exact date of the foundation of this hospital is unknown. There is even some conflicting evidence regarding the name of the founder. There seems little doubt, however, that the hospital, built on the site of a former brothel in New Street, near 'Blackbridge', (fn. 2) and dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Thomas of Canterbury, owes its origin to the munificence of Agnes Bottenham. It is true that letters patent were issued in 1394 granting John Chandler permission to found the institution, (fn. 3) but there is evidence for its existence some years before this. As early as 1379 an indulgence was promised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, together with the bishops of Winchester, Durham, Ely, Lincoln, Salisbury, Exeter, Bath and Wells, Rochester, Hereford, and St. Asaph, to all those in their dioceses giving assistance to the poor inmates of the hospital of the Holy Trinity and St. Thomas Martyr. (fn. 4) In 1390 Boniface IX granted the hospital permission to consecrate its chapel and to celebrate mass and other divine offices therein. (fn. 5) Moreover, several of the early records of the hospital specifically refer to Agnes Bottenham as the founder. (fn. 6) John Chandler, on the other hand, is mentioned as its master in 1383. (fn. 7) He was undoubtedly closely concerned with the well-being of the foundation, both in this capacity and as one of its earliest benefactors. (fn. 8) He was, in addition, one of Agnes Bottenham's executors. (fn. 9) But there is no evidence that the hospital was rebuilt either on its existing site or on a new one by him. And the ordinances which he drew up in 1396 (fn. 10) are clearly supplementary to the original ones: they are concerned solely with administrative matters and the remembrance of benefactors.

Provision was made in the hospital for 12 permanently, and 18 temporarily resident poor. (fn. 11) The latter were allowed to remain a maximum of three days and nights except in case of sickness, when they might stay until they recovered. All the needs of the poor were supplied by the subwarden, who was the working head of the institution. He had to be resident and take an oath to carry out his duties faithfully. (fn. 12) It was the responsibility of the master to see that he did so, and to remove him, if necessary, after his third offence. In this event the choice of a suitable successor lay with the master. After the death of John Chandler, who kept the office in his own hands during his lifetime, the mastership remained in the hands of the Mayor of Salisbury. A resident chaplain celebrated the usual masses and canonical hours within the hospital, and attendance was compulsory for every inmate.

The history of the hospital witnesses a sincere attempt to carry out the wishes both of its founder and of its earliest benefactor. Indeed, there appears to have been no break in its charitable work. The ordinances have been modified and supplemented, but the foundation has always provided and is still continuing today to provide food and shelter for the aged. The wealth and excellent condition of existing records (fn. 13) testify to a tradition of sound administration which has resulted in the effective execution of the hospital's work.

A detailed inventory of 1418 (fn. 14) reveals a wellstocked hospital possessing 28 beds, 25 coverlets, 13 quilts, and 23 pairs of sheets. Some of the poor already had separate rooms at this time, others were simply screened off from one another. In the room where the altar stood were two rows of beds on the ground floor, one for women and the other for men. Six other beds stood on the upper floor. This practice of placing beds in the chapel was one commonly adopted by hospitals to enable the bedridden to participate in the services. In addition, there were five beds in separate rooms within the main building, and nine others in buildings in the garden. At least two of these latter were in existence by 1396, (fn. 15) but four new ones were built in the north part of the garden in 1408. (fn. 16)

Those admitted into the hospital appear to have been well cared for throughout the 15th century. They enjoyed a varied diet. Mutton, pork, or beef was served on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; fresh or salted fish on the other three days. Eggs, milk, oatmeal, cheese, bread, ale, peas, salt, and wheaten flour also formed part of their regular fare. All fuel was provided. The bill for these items frequently accounted for about half the total income of the institution: in 1407 £10 8s. of a gross income of £17 6s.; in 1451 £6 7s. 10d. of a total of £13 16s. 8d. Expenditure on the poor did diminish to a relatively low figure during the sub-wardenship of Stephen Rutherford, but this was probably due to inescapable financial difficulties. At least it cannot be ascribed to the cupidity of the sub-warden, who renounced his own salary to assist the inmates. (fn. 17)

The provision of temporary relief proved unpopular with the municipal authorities, who protested that all the needy staying in the city were received into the hospital. Presumably afraid of the encouragement of undesirable paupers and vagrants, they ordered a temporary cessation of this charity on 16 December 1438, (fn. 18) and for the rest of the century purchases of food and fuel for the hospital are made specifically for the poor 'of the house'. Not until the early 16th century was this aspect of the hospital's work resumed.

In the course of the 15th century the salaries of the chief officials of the hospital became fixed, to remain virtually unchanged for centuries. The chaplain received 40s. and a new gown annually, the sub-warden an annual salary of 26s. 8d. The mayor, who examined the accounts of the subwarden each year, and kept a check on the movables through inventories drawn up on the admission of each new master, received 13s. 4d. annually. (fn. 19)

Throughout the century, the main source of revenue comprised rents from the hospital's property in Salisbury. Licence was granted in 1399 for the acquisition of lands in mortmain to the value of £20, (fn. 20) and by 1407 property in the city worth £12 4s. 8d. a year had been acquired. The annual income from these rents grew slowly but steadily until, by the early 16th century, it amounted to over £16. The efforts to augment the revenue from other sources were varied, but met with no marked success. In the early part of the century payment was demanded from the poor on their admission, but this practice appears to have soon died out. From 1396 onwards the hospital was a frequent recipient of episcopal indulgences, (fn. 21) and proctors, fortified by these, were appointed at first to traverse the whole country, later only the counties of Wiltshire, Berkshire, and Dorset, in search of alms. The inmates themselves, both brothers and sisters, also left the hospital to beg, though their activities were normally confined to the city itself. Special collections were made in the chapel (fn. 22) on the feast-days of the annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the nativity of St. John the Baptist, and of St. Michael the Archangel and the Holy Trinity. Although the income from these additional sources was never large, the sub-warden was able to balance his budget except when a heavy bill for repairs had to be met. Even then, private donations substantially eased his difficulties.

The hospital apparently continued its work unaffected by the religious upheaval of the early 16th century. It is not even mentioned in the Valor Ecclesiasticus. A growing income enabled it to continue, and towards the end of the century supplement, its provision for the poor. Letters patent enabling the foundation to acquire lands to the value of £50 were granted in 1583, (fn. 23) and by 1604 an annual income of £23 7s. 8d. was being received from rents. Although deprived of the assistance of indulgences, the hospital continued to enjoy the offerings made in the chapel on the same four annual feast-days. But of far greater value were the many substantial legacies received towards the end of the century. The amount spent on the basic food of the poor now became stabilized at £10 8s. a year; peas, oatmeal, and salt were bought in addition, and food worth 8d. a week was served on Sundays. Fuel was still provided, and the poor now received £1 each year for 'Holy Day money', distributed in small payments at Christmas, Twelfth day, Candlemas, Easter, Whitsunday, Trinity Sunday, Ascension Day, and All Hallows' Day. Special allowances were also enjoyed by the sick inmates. Some of the new allowances were the direct result of legacies. For example, 40s. was distributed yearly from the bequest of James Malyard, and a similar amount from the legacy of William Davies. The gift of £20 from Peter Hermes was used to provide six new black cloaks a year: henceforth, each inmate received a new one every alternate year. (fn. 24)

The number of resident poor that the hospital was bound to support remained unchanged. The full complement was not always maintained: only eight were living there in 1564. But at least by 1598 the original number had been restored. There are some indications of an attempt by the hospital to resume its temporary relief for a short while at the beginning of the century, but there is no sign of this after 1518.

Throughout the history of the hospital, control of its affairs frequently lay in the hands of a prominent citizen of Salisbury. Some of the subwardens had already held, others were to hold in future, the mayoralty of the town. William Maynard, for example, relinquished the post of sub-warden to become mayor and then resumed it at the expiration of his yearly term. In 1542-3 the mayor failed to appoint a sub-warden and held the office himself. But the sub-wardens were by no means all laymen. Thomas Blakker, William Mantell, and John Bentley, for example, were all clerics, and during their tenure of office no separate appointment was made to the chaplaincy. The business ability of these clerics, however, left much to be desired, and in the latter part of the 16th century it became customary to appoint a lay assistant to safeguard the hospital's economy. Thus in 1569, during the sub-wardenship of John Bentley, John Laxmore was instructed by the auditors to draw up the accounts and receive the rents. He remained clerk of lands under John Bentley's successor, Godfrey Gobben, who was also a priest. (fn. 25)

In 1612 James I granted the hospital a new charter. It provided for the same number of inmates, but specified that men only should be admitted. (fn. 26) All the poor men were to be elected by the mayor and commonalty as masters of the institution. Ambiguity had apparently arisen in the past from the different names under which the hospital had received grants of property, so the poor inmates were now incorporated as the Master and Poor of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity in the city of New Sarum. They were also granted permission to use a common seal. All grants of property were to be made conditional upon the distribution of the usual relief to the poor. (fn. 27)

As the revenue of the hospital increased in the course of the 17th century, so did expenditure on the poor men. In the early part of the century numerous large legacies were received, a substantial income arose from fines for leases, and by the end of the century the income from rents amounted to over £68 a year. The basic allowance for the poor was increased in 1605 to 7s. 4d. a week; in 1620 another 8d. was added; two years later a further 2s. Then in 1633 the auditors ordered the expenditure of 12d. a week on each inmate. Twelve shillings each week was therefore now normally spent on this basic allowance. It was increased again in 1660 to 18s. The poor continued to receive all the other grants enjoyed in the previous century, and, in addition, a few more small money payments from various legacies, and a new shirt every alternate year. A small proportion of the surplus revenue shown in the account was also usually divided among them. (fn. 28)

The different religious complexions of the various political regimes noticeably affected the religious life of the hospital during this period. With the fall of Charles I and the advent of Cromwell, the hospital ceased to employ a chaplain, and it was not until after the Restoration that the traditional services within the hospital were resumed. A new Bible and Common Prayer Book were then purchased, and the salary of the chaplain again paid regularly. In 1673, moreover, the legacy of William Chiffinch enabled the hospital to pay the chaplain another 20s. a year. (fn. 29)

Information regarding the care of the sick within the hospital is scanty and vague during its early history. We know that the sick were given extra money, but by whom they were nursed is not made clear. Probably the task was performed by the female inmates. In the 17th century, when the charity was restricted to men, a woman was specially engaged for the purpose. It seems doubtful whether she was resident at this time. There is a reference in 1630 to 'the woman which now remayneth in the said house', (fn. 30) but all the other evidence points to the employment of a suitable woman only when the need arose. Small payments for caring for the sick are intermittently entered in the accounts, but they are scarcely big enough to comprise a regular salary, and vary substantially from year to year. Thus in 1642 8s. was paid to the goodwife Bull for attending the sick men over the past two years, while in 1680-2 a payment of 17s. was made to a woman for nursing during a single year. Moreover, this latter payment is made for attendance on the sick 'at several times this year', which essentially suggests employment of an irregular nature.

In 1702 plans were put into operation for the complete rebuilding of the hospital. Representatives were appointed in each of the three parishes and within the cathedral close to collect donations; (fn. 31) the brothers were ordered to find temporary lodgings for themselves. (fn. 32) A committee, headed by Colonel Kenton, was appointed to organize and supervise the undertaking. When completed, the new building comprised a chapel, common hall, and thirteen separate rooms, a hall and garden at the rear divided into twelve plots. (fn. 33) Despite the organized attempt to stimulate people's generosity, the work involved the hospital in serious financial difficulties. Having made every effort to collect together all available funds, the sub-warden was still forced in 1706 to sell two tenements in Downton to Sir Charles Duncombe on a 40 years' lease, to liquidate the debts arising from the rebuilding. (fn. 34)

Early in the 18th century the nurse became a permanent resident member of the hospital staff, with a salary of 28s. a year. In 1732-3 her room was furnished, at the expense of the hospital, with a cupboard, stool, and settle. The sub-warden, or steward, (fn. 35) still received the same salary, but that of the chaplain now rose to £4 a year. By the middle of the century the weekly expenditure on the basic commons of the poor men had risen to 22s., and a quarterage of £12 a year was paid them in addition to the other usual allowances.

In 1828 a new set of regulations was drawn up to tighten discipline. (fn. 36) The behaviour of the brothers had often needed correction. Drunkenness was a common fault. (fn. 37) Indeed, in the early 17th century, a flourishing trade in beer and ale appears to have been carried on by a woman in the hospital not only with the brothers but with others frequenting the place. (fn. 38) In the early 19th century trouble was being experienced in making the brothers wear the regulation black gown, (fn. 39) and in 1825 it was ordered that anyone appearing without this should forfeit a week's pay. Other misdeeds were punished by withholding pay for as long as two weeks. (fn. 40) The new regulations of 1828 set out clearly the standard of behaviour expected of the brothers and the penalties which would follow any failure to live up to this standard. Harmony was always to be preserved within the hospital, and no one was to leave it without permission. Provided no annoyance was caused to others, any trade or occupation could be followed. Each man was bound to look after his own room, and all were warned to keep away from alehouses. The brothers were to attend the regular services held in St. Martin's Church on Sundays, Christmas Day, and Good Friday, and all services held within the hospital. Prayers were to be read in the hospital chapel or common hall twice a week by a brother selected by the steward. All the poor men were to take an oath before the common council to obey these rules, and any contravention was to be punished by the loss of commons for the maximum period of one week on the first offence, a report to the Common Council on the second, and expulsion from the hospital on the third. No reinstatement was possible.

These regulations make it clear that the hospital no longer maintained its own chaplain. According to the Charity Commissioners of 1908 the chaplain ceased to celebrate in 1796. (fn. 41) In 1833 it was the practice for the parish priest of St. Martin's to hold a service in the hospital chapel on the first Wednesday in every month, and to celebrate communion there every Trinity Sunday. (fn. 42) Otherwise the poor men attended services in the parish church.

The report of the Charity Commissioners of 1833 reveals that the original number of inmates was still being maintained at this time. The men admitted were those who had formerly enjoyed a better fortune, and who were at least 60 years old. They were not necessarily infirm, but they had to be residents of the town. Each received 3s. 6d. a week, an allowance of fuel, a black cloak and a shirt every alternate year, and 9s. 2d. a year from Baker's Charity. (fn. 43) The nurse was still resident, but no longer supported by hospital funds. The income of the foundation now amounted to £192 9s. 7d., comprising £79 13s. 10d. from rents (mostly in Salisbury), £41 2s. from fines for the renewal of leases, £29 17s. 6d. from dividends from investments, £150 9s. from dividends from stock, and £5 10s. from Baker's Charity.

In 1853 the control of the hospital was transferred to the Trustees of the Salisbury Municipal Charities. Their powers were apparently limited in 1892 to the control of the personal estate of the hospital, the real estate being vested in the Corporation of the Master and Poor of the Hospital. In 1895, however, the Charity Commissioners empowered the trustees to receive the rents and profits of all the real estates of the hospital and emphasized the obligation of the Corporation to do everything the trustees required of them. (fn. 44)

A thorough renovation of the chapel was carried out in 1908, but the character of the building was preserved unchanged. Indeed, the whole structure of the hospital remains today fundamentally the same as in the early 18th century. But modernization has necessitated important changes. Central heating has been installed, and in 1950 two of the rooms were changed into combined bathrooms and kitchens.

So at last the original number of inmates has been discarded, and the hospital now houses ten poor men and one nurse. The men look after their own rooms and cook for themselves. They can either eat alone in their rooms or in the refectory. All are given their rooms and lighting free, but pay for what coal they need in addition to the central heating. Each man receives 6s. 6d. a week in addition to his old-age pension, and is perfectly free to go out to work if he so wishes. A service is held for the poor men every Thursday evening in their own chapel.


John Leker, occurs 1407–11. (fn. 45)

William Panyter, occurs 1418. (fn. 46)

Robert Tresrawell, occurs 1436, (fn. 47) 1438. (fn. 48)

William Swyfte, occurs 1445. (fn. 49)

Henry Frend, occurs 1448. (fn. 50)

Geoffrey Ponyngges, occurs 1450-2. (fn. 51)

William Wotton, occurs 1456-7. (fn. 52)

John Belle, occurs 1459-60. (fn. 53)

Thomas Aynsham, occurs 1461-2.

John Bell, occurs 1477-8.

Stephen Rutherford, occurs 1478, 1484.

William Maynard, occurs 1487-8.

William Fraunces, 1488-9.

William Maynard, 1489-90.

John Spiryng, 1490-1.

Thomas Blakker, occurs 1492-5.

John Kene, 1496-1501.

Edward Dygon, 1501-2.

William Wells, 1502-9.

John Sexten, 1509-12.

John Raynold, 1512-19.

Thomas Blakker, 1519-20.

John Raynold, 1520-8.

Richard Lobbe, occurs 1528.

John Raynold, occurs 1530-1.

Henry Coldston, 1532-41.

William Smyth, 1541-2. (fn. 54)

John Evans, 1542-3.

Henry Coldston, 1544-6.

William Mantell, 1547-60.

Thomas Gyrdler, 1560-4.

John Bentley, 1565-72.

Godfrey Gobben, occurs 1572-3. (fn. 55)

Robert Newman, 1577-86.

Henry Hamon, 1586-97.

Henry Hamon, the younger, 1598.

Simon Neale, 1599-1605.

Thomas Holmes, 1606-13.

Richard Dawson, 1614.

Robert Roberts, 1615-16.

John Wyndover, 1617.

John Stannax, 1617-18.

Charles Jacobb, 1618-29.

Ambrose West, 1629-32.

William Mundye, 1632-51.

Simon Rolfe, 1652-8.

Nicholas Beach, 1658-9.

Isaac Acourte, 1659-64.

John Fishlake, 1665-7.

John Percivall, 1667-8.

Edward Fry, occurs 1668-71.

Andrew Baden, occurs 1678-81.

William Clemens, occurs 1681-2.

Edward Hunt.

Charles Unier.

Thomas Haskett, 1688-90.

Henry Edmonds, 1690-3.

Edward Cox, 1693-6.

Robert Sutton, occurs 1696.

Richard Marsh, occurs 1705-7.

William Jay, occurs 1707-22.

John Sandy, occurs 1728-9.

John Davis, 1730-66.

Sydenham Burrough, 1766-82.

Michael Burrough, occurs 1782-1810.

Edward Stevens, occurs 1820-1.

George Atkinson, occurs 1827-33.

Two seals of the hospital are illustrated by Hoare; (fn. 56) one represents the Godhead and is inscribed:


The other shows the Trinity and, below it, the head of St. Thomas, and is inscribed:


The sub-warden used a seal of his own in the 15th century, and at least one document still survives with this seal intact. (fn. 57)


  • 1. It has proved impossible to examine systematically all the Salisbury Corporation Ledger Books, but owing to the close connexion between the hospital and the municipality, these books are indispensable to those undertaking an exhaustive study of the hospital. At the time of writing this article all documents referred to as 'Trin. Hosp. MS.' were in the strong room of the hospital in Trinity St.
  • 2. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (7); Trin. Hosp. MS. 95.
  • 3. Cal. Pat. 1391–9, 383.
  • 4. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (7).
  • 5. Trin. Hosp. MS. 98. A similar privilege was granted by Bp. Waltham in 1388, to a 'poor house of alms in the parish of S. Martin': Sar. Reg. Waltham, ii, f. 3b. There appear to have been no other foundations apart from Holy Trinity Hospital to which this grant could have applied. Hoare's contention (Mod. Wilts. City of Salisbury, 752) that it was to this hospital that the grant was made is therefore probably correct.
  • 6. e.g. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (7 and 10).
  • 7. Ibid. MS. U 143, no. 1 (10).
  • 8. Trin. Hosp. MS. 57; Cal. Pat. 1391–9, 383; ibid. 1399–1401, 319.
  • 9. T. H. Baker, 'Trinity Hospital, Salisbury', W.A.M. xxxvi, 376, n. 1. John Chandler is also referred to as the 'dispositor' of the hospital: Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (10).
  • 10. Trin. Hosp. MS. 57.
  • 11. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (7); Trin. Hosp. MS. 95.
  • 12. Trin. Hosp. MS. 57.
  • 13. The accts. of the sub-warden, which are used extensively in this article, are virtually complete from the middle of the 15th cent. until 1818. The hospital muniments also include over 100 deeds ranging over four and a half centuries.
  • 14. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (9).
  • 15. Trin. Hosp. MS. 81.
  • 16. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 17. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 18. Salisbury Corp. MS. E 20, Ledger Bk. B (1452– 1564), f. 33a.
  • 19. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 20. Cal. Pat. 1399–1401, 197.
  • 21. The earliest appears to have been granted by Bp. Metford: Sar. Reg. Metford, f. 5a. See also Trin. Hosp. MS. 95; Sar. Reg. Chandler, f. 3a; Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 22. The right to all offerings made in the chapel was granted to the hospital by Bp. Metford: Hoare, Mod. Wilts. City of Salisbury, 91.
  • 23. Trin. Hosp. MS. 97.
  • 24. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. The hospital was originally intended for the needy of both sexes (Trin. Hosp. MS. 95), and mention is made of the 'brothers and sisters' in the accts. as late as 1557.
  • 27. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. City of Salisbury, 754.
  • 28. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Salisbury Corp. MS. E 21, Ledger Bk. C (1571–1640), f. 361a.
  • 31. Ibid. MS. E 22, Ledger Bk. D (1640–1723), f. 342a.
  • 32. W.A.M. xxxvi, 410.
  • 33. Endowed Char. (Wilts.) H. C. 68, i, p. 373 (1833), xxiv.
  • 34. Salisbury Corp. MS. E 22, Ledger Bk. D (1640– 1723), f. 364b.
  • 35. 'Sub-warden' and 'steward' are often used interchangeably in the 16th cent., but after 1614 the earlier term is dropped and 'steward' substituted.
  • 36. Trin. Hosp. MS.
  • 37. e.g. Simon Fry was removed for drunkenness c. 1630: Salisbury Corp. MS. E 21, Ledger Bk. C (1571–1640), f. 349a.
  • 38. Ibid. f. 361a.
  • 39. W.A.M. xxxvi, 402.
  • 40. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts. 1707–9.
  • 41. Endowed Char. (Wilts.) H.C. 273–1, p. 376 (1908), lxxxi.
  • 42. Ibid. H.C. 68, i, p. 373 (1833), xxiv.
  • 43. Details regarding this and all other legacies of the hospital after 1612 are given by T. H. Baker in 'Trinity Hospital', W.A.M. xxxvi, 401 et seq.
  • 44. Endowed Char. (Wilts.) (1908), p. 527.
  • 45. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 46. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, n. 1 (9).
  • 47. Ibid. MS. U 143, no. 1 (11).
  • 48. Ibid. MS. U 143, no. 1 (12).
  • 49. Trin. Hosp. MS. 38.
  • 50. Ibid. MS. 36.
  • 51. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts.
  • 52. Ibid. The account is wrongly dated 30-36 Hen. VI. Wm. Wotton is described in John Belle's account as the preceding sub-warden, but Baker (W.A.M. xxxvi, 412) mentions a John Wheler as sub-warden in 1458.
  • 53. Trin. Hosp. MSS. Accts. All subsequent dates of sub-wardens are taken from the accounts.
  • 54. Both William Smyth and his successor, John Evans, held the sub-wardenship in conjunction with the mayoralty.
  • 55. In this year the sub-warden draws up his account with the assistance of John Laxmore, 'clerk of lands'.
  • 56. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. City of Salisbury, facing p. xvii, nos. 13 and 14.
  • 57. Salisbury Corp. MS. U 143, no. 1 (12).