Monument record MYO3505 - St Leonard's leper hospital


A hospital dedicated to St Leonard (also often associated with St Loys) is said to have stood on the east bank of the Foss at Monk Bridge, but there is no definite evidence of its existence. By the 19th century a pub, The Woodman, stood on the site. Much of the site of the Hospital and the Woodman public house now lie under the carriageway of Heworth Green.


Grid reference Centred SE 6095 5251 (46m by 46m)
Map sheet SE65SW
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

The supposed site is marked on the 1852 OS plan of the City of York. Evaluation excavations in 2001 (EYO490) by FAS identified structures that might have been part of this hospital. The site was occupied in the 19th century by the Woodman Public House.

At the time of the FAS evaluation the site was used as The Britannia Car Park. There had been no previous archaeological work at the site. The 1852 Ordnance Survey map the area of the supposed hospital is divided into two fields, bounded on the west by a footpath called Vicars Lane. Adjacent to the lane in the north-west corner of the site was an inn, The Woodman, fronting onto Heworth Green. The date of the inn building is unknown. In 1925 Heworth Green was widened and engroached upon the eastern side of the site. During ground works foundations were exposed thought to be of a medieval building but whther this related to the hospital is not certain. The eastern side of the site is bounded by the River Foss, and this was much wider in the past and therefore much of the site of the car park would have been within the former river channel.

The identificaiton of the site with St Loy is derived from Drake's Eboracum in which he states the hospital of St L:oy stood on the east side of Monkbridge. This has been assumed to be one of the four leper hospitals recorded in medieval wills. Speed's map of 1610 places St Loy's on Ouse Bridge. However, there is little doubt that a leper hospital was located on Monkbridge. A will of 1428 makes reference to the 'lazar house of Monkbrig'. Other wills also refer to donations to the lepers in the suburbs. In 1350 the earliest reference to the hospital is a grant from Edward III of protection for the 'master and bretheren of the hospital of lepers of St Leonard on Monkbrig'.

The lack of records have led some to assume it was shortlived, and replaced by a later foundation referred to in a 1396 will of Robert de Nowme to 'uphold a house near Monkbridge on Monkgate which I have made a hospital'. It is referred to in 1619 as four tenements called le maison dieu in Monkgate. Wills however indicate that this was separate from the leper hospital such as Thomas Bracebrig who left donations to the four leper hospitals as well as the maison dieu of Robert Howme. By the 19th century the site became part of the York Town Gasworks, with the site incorporated into these works between 1880 and 1885.

The Woodman public house is of uncertain date, based on the 1852 Ordnance Survey data for the pub buildings, the road widening in 1925 destroyed two of the buildings fronting on to Heworth Green. Parts of The Woodman were recorded in the FAS evaluation and correspond with one of the buildings shown on the 1852 Ordnance Survey map.

FAS suggest that The Woodman ncorporated elements of the medieval leper hospital. The buildings that formed The Woodman are shown on early 19th century painting, lantern slides and photographs taken during its demolition in 1925. Based on the pictoral evidence, including images of the pub during demolition, indicate several different phases of construction. They suggest the stone built building with its gable to Heworth Green could have incorporated parts of the gatehouse to the leper hospital. The excavations at the site by FAS identified a substntial ditch that produced medieval pottery usuggesting it was cut in the 12th century and this aligns with the proposed gatehouse. The pictoral evidence suggest this building was constructed of stone blocks and was distinct from structure behind it in terms of fabric. Photographs suggest alterations to the proposed gatehouse were made in thin bricks which may date to the 14th-16th century. This alteration consisted offlanking rooms to the gatehouse. A chimney stack is suggested to have been inserted at this time and is also shown on the photographs. Doors and windows in these buildings appear to be 18th century alterations.

The boundary ditch identified in the excavations appears to have begun to be backfilled by the fifteenth century, and this may be associated with the foundaiton of the new maison die founded by Robert de Howme. The boundary ditch associated with St Nicholas leper hospital on Hull Road was also backfilled in the 15th century, although the hospital continued into the 16th century.

A ditch was recorded that pre-dated the construction of The Woodman, that cuts the boundary ditch of the hospital with the only dateable finds being a fragement of 17th or 18th century clay pipe. This ditch is not aligned to Hewroth Green or the earlier hospital boundary. The ditch appears to have been backfilled quickly after it was cut. It was tentatively suggested this feature may be associated with the English Civil War.

In situ archaeology not disturbed by the gas works was 0,3m below the then ground surface. This consisted of remains dating to the 18th century and the earlier inn and its associated buildings and surfaces that may incorporate elements of the medieval leper hospital.

Information derived from SYO696.

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

FAS, 2001, Britannia car park Heworth Green York (Unpublished document). SYO696.

Sources/Archives (2)

  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Unpublished document: FAS. 2001. Britannia car park Heworth Green York.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Apr 16 2020 7:22PM


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