Hospitals: St John the Baptist, Wootton Bassett

Pages 368-369

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

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Walter of Wylye, Bishop of Salisbury, issued in June 1266 his ordinances for a hospital to be founded at Wootton Bassett by Sir Philip Basset, the patron, and Thomas de Gay, the rector. (fn. 1) The xenodochium, or hospital, with a free chapel of the Virgin, St. John the Baptist, and All Saints, was to have the bishop's special protection and the same liberties as such houses enjoyed elsewhere in the diocese of Salisbury. The normal rights of the parish were to be protected, but the master or warden and brethren and their household, within their own boundaries, were not to be subject to the parish church or to the rector. Basset and his heirs and assigns, as patrons, were to choose a priest and present him to the bishop for admission. The master thus admitted was to have charge of the hospital in matters spiritual and temporal, and was not to be deprived without the bishop's authority. The priest-brethren, one or two or more as means allowed, were to be clad in a regular russet habit marked with a cross, like the habit of the master and brethren of the bishop's hospital at Salisbury, and they were to keep the same observances; when there were three priests, a daily service was to be said at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thirteen poor men from the parish, or more if means allowed, were to be maintained every day. All the priest-brethren were to obey the master; all were to sleep in one dormitory and feed in one refectory, except during sickness. If the mastership were to be vacant for four months, the right of presentation passed to the bishop.

The hospital is said to have enjoyed rights in Braden Forest of cutting timber for building and of hunting with bow and hound. (fn. 2) In 1280-1 it held a messuage and lands in Tockenham, (fn. 3) and in 1292 land valued at 10s. in Quidhampton (in Wroughton). (fn. 4)

The only four presentations to the mastership recorded in the bishops' registers were made by the lords of the manor of Wootton Bassett, who were the patrons of the house. Thus the second Despenser presented in 1307, Queen Isabel in 1342 and 1353, and Edmund, Earl of Cambridge, in 1380. (fn. 5) John Badby, presented by the queen in 1342, became Isabel's attorney in England in 1343. (fn. 6) When he relinquished the hospital in 1353 he was Isabel's treasurer, Rector of Norton Davy (Lincs.), and a Canon of Salisbury and of Wells. (fn. 7)

In 1406 Edward, Duke of York, then lord of the manor, had licence to grant the advowson of the hospital to the Prior and Convent of Bradenstoke, 5 miles to the south-west. At the same time Thomas Wroughton, clerk, who had been collated to the hospital by the duke's father, was given licence to grant the house with its endowments to Bradenstoke. (fn. 8) At this time the house was valued at not more than 6 marks. (fn. 9) In Bishop Simon of Ghent's register a later entry against the year 1307 records modo non est ibidem tale hospitale; (fn. 10) in Wyville's, against 1353, there is a similar note that this priory was elsewhere called a hospital, and its site was no longer known.

Masters, Wardens, or Priors

John Duraunt, presented 1307. (fn. 11)

Thomas of Langley, replaced 1342. (fn. 12)

John of Badby, presented 1342. (fn. 13)

Roger of Walton, presented 1353. (fn. 14)

Thomas Hall, died 1380. (fn. 15)

John Burgeys, presented 1380. (fn. 16)

Thomas Wroughton, presented before 1403. (fn. 17)


  • 1. E 42/AS 377.
  • 2. Aubrey, Topog. Coll. ed. Jackson, 203, n. 1.
  • 3. Dugd. Mon. vi, 779.
  • 4. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 193.
  • 5. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i, 8, 37, 51, 64.
  • 6. Cal. Pat. 1343–5, 6.
  • 7. Cal. Pap. Lett. iii, 479; Cal. Pap. Reg. (Pet.), i, 243.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1405–8, 227.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. Reg. Simon de Gandavo (Cant. & York Soc.), ii, 694.
  • 11. Ibid. 694; Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i, 8.
  • 12. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i, 37; Cal. Pat. 1343–5, 29.
  • 13. Phillipps, op. cit. i, 37; Cal. Pat. 1343–5, 2, 29.
  • 14. Sar. Reg. Wyville, ii (Inst.), f. 255. Was Rector of Tockenham.
  • 15. Phillipps, Wilts. Inst. i, 64.
  • 16. Ibid. Said to be of 'Stok Neylond' [? Stoke by Nayland, Suff.].
  • 17. Cal. Pat. 1405–8, 227.