Monument record MYO3491 - St Leonard's Hospital Precinct Area (parent record for medieval hospital)

Summary

According to tradition, King Athelstan founded a hospital to the West of the minster in 935. William I confirmed the hospital, but it was moved to a new site in the reign of William Rufus. Two fragments of Anglian cross-shafts have been found in St Leonard's Place, near the site of St Peter's Hospital. The first, found by 1852 is late 7th-early 9th century, and the second found in 1833-4 is 9th century. St. Leonards Hospital was refounded in 1137 and was amongst the largest, if not the largest, medieval hospitals in the north of England. The hospital was erected on the site of the former hospital of St. Peters which was severely damaged in a fire in 1137. The hospital sat within a large precinct, defined on two sides by the city walls, and a precinct wall on the east and south-east boundary. Parts of the east precinct wall, including a blocked gateway, form the east wall of the Theatre Royal, and are visible at the rear of the stage. The structure (MYO1069) adjacent to Museum Street and the Museum Gardens contains the partial, ruined remains of a chapel, infirmary and entrance passage of St Leonard's Hospital. This structure was built c1240AD. A 4-bay entrance passage now leads from the Museum Gardens into what was the inside of the hospital precinct. The adjacent undercroft, with a 4x3-bay vault, is now open on one side to the Library Lawn. Above the undercroft are the remains of a chapel. Further remains dating to the 12th century are preserved within the Theatre Royal. The Keregan Room (MYO3492) is part of a fine vaulted undercroft. MYO3493 is a further vaulted underfcroft whihc now houses the boiler for the Theatre Royal.

Location

Grid reference Centred SE 6007 5211 (135m by 178m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (6)

Full Description

Historical Background

By tradition the hospital was founded by King Athelstan in 937 but nothing certain is known of its history until after the Conquest [ Royal Commission on Historical Monuments]. William II rebuilt the hospital farther west and at the same time is said to have erected a small church. The first hospital building is said to have been built immediately to the west of the minster, with which it was associated [Victoria County History]. A grant of building materials was made by Henry I but the hospital was damaged or destroyed in the great fire of 1137. King Stephen built a new church dedicated to St. Leonard, though the hospital continued to be called St. Peter's until the 13th century [ Royal Commission on Historical Monuments].

One or two small additions to the site were made between 1299 and 1309]. In 1299 the hospital was licensed to stop a lane leading from Blake Street to Petergate and enclose it with a wall to enlarge the hospital court, and the extent of the site in this direction is confirmed by the description in 1375 of a tenement on the corner of Petergate and Lop Lane (now Duncombe Place) as extending 'from Petergate to the land of St. Leonard's behind'. [Victoria County History].

By 1300 St Leonard's had up to 225 inmates and the staff comprised 13 chaplains and 8 sisters. It appeared that the destitute were admitted free of charge and benefited from the endowment of beds by wealthy donors. This was considered to be one of the Seven Works of Corporal Mercy. After the mid 14th century the hospital entered a period of slow decline in terms of numbers of inmates, probably due to financial problems. [K. Hunter Mahn. St Leonard's Hospital, Project Design 2004]

On at least two occasions the hospital fabric was neglected: in 1350 the dwelling place of St. Leonard's was said to be in great disrepair; and in 1515 the church and other buildings were said to be dilapidated. After its surrender in 1540 the hospital was at first held by the late master, Thomas Magnus, before the site was granted to Sir Arthur Darcy in 1544. Two years later, the house, site, and precinct were sold back to the Crown by Sir George Darcy, and in the same year the setting up of a royal mint on the site was being considered; the mint was later built there and that larger part of the hospital site lying south-west of the present St. Leonard's Place long retained the name Mint Yard. The site was leased to Sir Henry Savile in 1561, granted to Robert, Lord Dudley, in 1564, and sold to Savile by Dudley later the same year. During the 17th century the site was occupied by houses, gardens, wood-yards, and stables, with the hospital cloisters in use as stables and wine vaults. An attempt to erect a market on the site in 1637 was prevented by the corporation who in 1675 bought it from George Savile, 1st Viscount Halifax.

In 1845 the corporation leased the southernmost part of the site to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society which cleared the ruins of the infirmary and incorporated them within its grounds. The York Public Library now stands on the site of Mint Yard, and the infirmary, having been returned to the corporation by the Philosophical Society in 1937, has, since 1951, housed the Information Centre. A small part of the hospital site was leased in 1744 for the building of a small theatre there; the present Theatre Royal stands on this site. [Victoria County History].

A Description of the Site

St Leonard's Hospital, originally St Peter's Hospital was one of the largest establishments of its kind in medieval England and occupied the whole of the W. Corner of the Roman fortress, reaching from the Roman wall on the S.W. to the back of the properties along High Petergate to the N.E. [Royal Commission on Historical Monuments].

The Hospital occupied a site of about 4 acres to the west of the minster. On the north-west the city wall served as the hospital's boundary wall between Bootham Bar and the Multangular Tower; in 1467 the hospital leased from the corporation the moat outside this stretch of wall, and in 1506 was asked by the lessors what authority it had to build its infirmary up to this same stretch. The Roman wall, probably raised by medieval building, provided the basis of the south-west boundary from the Multangular Tower to the present Museum Street. The position of the remaining sections of the boundary wall is not precisely known. On the south-east Museum Street was formerly a narrow lane (Finkle Street) running alongside the boundary wall. On the north-east the boundary wall ran across from Blake Street to the city wall near Bootham Bar. In 1299 the hospital was licensed to stop a lane leading from Blake Street to Petergate and enclose it with a wall to enlarge the hospital court, and the extent of the site in this direction is confirmed by the description in 1375 of a tenement on the corner of Petergate and Lop Lane (now Duncombe Place) as extending 'from Petergate to the land of St. Leonard's behind'. That the hospital site did not extend to Petergate, even near Bootham Bar, is shown by the description of a tenement which in 1286-9 lay within the bar, abutted upon the city wall, and extended from Petergate to the hospital close. The first hospital building is said to have been built immediately to the west of the minster, with which it was associated. [Victoria County History].

There were two entrances to the hospital. One faced the river providing access to and from the staith, later St. Leonard's Landing, at which the hospital's supplies were unloaded; this gate was known in the late 12th century as the lower gate (portam inferiorem) and a century later as the water gate. The second entrance lay opposite the present Blake Street and was known in the early 13th century as the east gate. William Robinson's house, on the corner of Duncombe Place and St. Leonard's Place, is said to stand on the site of this gatehouse and, like the adjacent house, contains much stone which was probably taken from the hospital. It appears that in 1308 the hospital may have attempted to make an additional entrance which would provide direct access to Bootham: it was alleged that it appropriated part of the city's wall and ditch lying between St. Leonard's and St. Mary's Abbey, broke down the wall and removed the stones, and closed a public path leading to the city wall. Many buildings connected with the conventual life and charitable work of the hospital lay within the site but little is known of their positions.

It is difficult from what is known to establish a coherent plan for the whole site, although Cullum has suggested that the documentary sources indicate that by the 13th century it had a double courtyard plan similar to some other known medieval hospitals . One courtyard would have been surrounded by the buildings of the hospital while the other would have been an Augustinian monastery of standard type. There would have been a number of buildings and facilities in the precinct including a master's lodgings, service areas, school and cemetery. In 1346 a 'barnhouse' under the infirmary was apparently converted into a nursery for children. [K. Hunter Mahn. St Leonard's Hospital, Project Design 2004]

Its Survival

Little remains of the hospital with the exception of the ruins of the Chapel and gate passage; this is believed to have been the ambulatory and chapel of the infirmary, and it adjoins a gateway —the hospital entrance from the river. The east end of the chapel is of early-13th-century style, and has been suggested to be the work of John Romeyn, then treasurer of the minster, who is said to have restored the hospital. The building was renovated in 1955. A small remnant of the undercroft of William II's rebuilding of the hospital is preserved beneath the Theatre Royal. [Victoria County History].

The surviving remains consist of a ruined building on the N.W. Side of Museum Street and some fragments at the Theatre Royal 90yds to the N.E [ Royal Commission on Historical Monuments].

There are also structural remains to the north west of the standing buildings described above. [K. Hunter Mahn. St Leonard's Hospital, Project Design 2004]

NMR Information

Name St Leonards Hospital
Alternate Name (Alternative) St Peters Hospital
Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.) NY 31

Summary description

This site originally held St Peter’s Hospital, which was renamed St Leonard’s Hospital. The hospital was located to the West of the Minster (see SE65SW335). The building was constructed by William Rufus under Augustinian rule and became one of the greatest of all the English hospitals. The remains are scheduled and consist of a building believed to be the ambulatory and chapel, in early 13th century style, and a small remnant of undercroft (temps. William II) preserved under the Theatre Royal. Part of the boundary wall in the garden of the Conservative Club and behind St. Wilfrid's Church is said to have been visible in 1955. See G.Ps AO 63/114/4, 5 & 6 for illustrations of the hospital remains. One small section of the boundary wall incorporated into the modern building line, survives at SE 6014 5215.

Full description

[SE 6005 5205] ST. LEONARD'S HOSPITAL [G.T.] (remains of) (1)

St. Peter's Hospital, rebuilt by William II and renamed St. Leonard's in the reign of Stephen, was under Augustinian rule and became one of the greatest of all the English hospitals. The remains are scheduled and consist of a building believed to be the ambulatory and chapel, in early 13th.cent. style, and a small remnant of undercroft (temps. William II) preserved under the Theatre Royal. Part of the boundary wall in the garden of the Conservative Club and behind St. Wilfrid's Church is said to have been visible in 1955. See G.Ps AO 63/114/4, 5 & 6 for illustrations of the hospital remains. One small section of the boundary wall incorporated into the modern building line, survives at SE 6014 5215. (2-7)

History of the hospital and description of the remaining features. (8)

The remains of St Leonard’s Hospital are a grade I listed building. For further details on the designation see the statutory data. (9)

At the time of amending this record in 2012, access to information on the designation noted in source 7 above is available via the National Heritage List for England. (10)

According to English heritage’s Corporate GIS this building lies in a Conservation Area and is a Scheduled Monument. (11)

Sources
1 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date). OS 1/1250, 1961.
2 Medieval religious houses : England and Wales
2 copies 1953 by David Knowles and R Neville Hadcock 322
3 A history of Yorkshire: the city of York 1961 edited by P M Tillott 363-4
4 VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION List Ancient Monuments 1961, 106 (Ministry of Works)
5 Field Investigators Comments F1 RWE 06-JUN-63
6 Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Published 1984-7, with later amendments English Heritage Part 32 North Yorkshire
7 Medieval religious houses in England and Wales 1971 by David Knowles and R Neville Hadcock 407
8 Advances in monastic archaeology 1993 edited by Roberta Gilchrist and Harold Mytum Nov-18 227
9 List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Default value used to record large numbers of archive items which are not separately catalogued. See Monument Recording Guidelines for details of use. York, 14-Mar-1997
10 World Wide Web page
Higginbotham, Peter. 2000. The Workhouse.<http://www.workhouses.org.uk/> [Accessed 18-OCT-2006] The National Heritage List for England, St Leonard's Hospital, <http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1257087> [Accessed 10-JUL-2012]
11 Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date). 1:1250, 2008

Related Archives/Objects

BB88/03772 CROSS SHAFT FRAGMENT - 9TH C. RCHME MAP:RO & ANGLIAN YORK SEE ALSO AO63/114/4-6 FOR REMAINS OF BUILDING

Related Events

613515 Architectural Survey Investigation by RCHME/EH Architectural Survey
1107831 Excavation ST LEONARD'S HOSPITAL
1223997 Excavation THEATRE ROYAL, ST LEONARD'S PLACE
1310197 Evaluation MUSEUM GARDENS (TIME TEAM)
1343912 Excavation ST LEONARD'S HOSPITAL, MUSEUM GARDENS
1552911 Measured Survey English Heritage: Disability in Time and Place

People and Organisations
Compiler D SMITH Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1962-12-27 1962-12-27 Ordnance Survey Archaeology Officer 08-FEB-1960-31-MAY-1961 and 01-NOV-1966-26-JUL-1974
Compiler EMMA JORDAN English Heritage Swindon Office 2012-07-10 2012-07-10 EH staff
Compiler RICHARD W EMSLEY Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 1963-06-06 1963-06-06 OS AO 22-JUN-1959 to 1973 (613)

Person of historic interest/notable pers WILLIAM RUFUS 1135-1154


NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

P H Cullum, 1993, St Leonard’s Hospital, York: thespatial and social analysis of an Augustinian Hospital (Article in monograph). SYO1358.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Article in monograph: P H Cullum. 1993. St Leonard’s Hospital, York: thespatial and social analysis of an Augustinian Hospital.
  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (5)

Related Events/Activities (6)

Record last edited

Nov 30 2020 11:08AM

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