Friday, September 22, 2017

St Mary's Hospital (now gone)

This hospital was located near Chapel Bridge, on the lower slope of Dodderhill below St Augustine’s church. It was founded by William Dover, rector of that church, in 1285 and endowed with a salt share (the salt from 6912 gallons of brine each year, about 8 tons), a piece of land and rents worth 26s 4d. William Dover had paid 50 marks (One mark = 6s 8d) to the Abbot of St Peter’s in Gloucester for the lands which he then used to endow the hospital. King Edward I confirmed the grant in the same year, and the Prior and Convent of Worcester were the patrons.

The hospital had a master and some brethren (monks), and it’s likely that it cared for ill and poor people, and especially lepers, although this is not certain from any documentary evidence.

There are records of some of the masters, but no full list. In 1349 there is a record of Thomas of Savagebury in Dodderhill being appointed, but there is also a contradictory record of a different master, William Hull. The last recorded appointment was in 1502.

The hospital seems to have been ‘suppressed’ in 1535 by its patrons, the Prior and Convent of Worcester, before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A document of 1535 records ‘the hospital or chantry in the parish of Dodderhill’ as having an annual value of £8, and in 1536 the Prior and Convent were accused of suppressing the hospital ‘of Doverhill … without licence of the king’, and having ‘expelled the poor people to their utter destruction’. They caused the hospital to be pulled down, and the building materials were sold. They had ‘troubled’ the clerk and master of the house, Richard Cornewall, putting him ‘in jeopardy of his life’ and held his lands ‘by intrusion’. They had also mowed a meadow which had belonged to the hospital, ‘Preastmeadow’ at Forde in Dodderhill.

The Worcestershire historian Treadway Nash records in 1781 that the hospital ‘is still subsisting as a pidgeon house near the bridge’, so the remains of some buildings seem to have been visible for another 250 years at least.

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