Monument record MYO4351 - St Thomas's Hospital


The hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr outside Micklegate Bar. This hospital was founded, before 1391, for the maintenance of poor persons of either sex dwelling in the neighbourhood of 'Mykyllythbar'. It was demolished c.1862-3 and a new building erected in Nunnery Lane.


Grid reference SE 5974 5143 (point)
Map sheet SE55SE
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

The hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr outside Micklegate Bar. This hospital was founded, before 1391, for the maintenance of poor persons of either sex dwelling in the neighbourhood of 'Mykyllythbar,' and especially for hospitality by day and night of all poor travellers and sick poor passing through York.

On 12 May 1478 the hospital was transferred to the gild of Corpus Christi, when it was agreed that 'from noweforth the said hospitall shall be named, taken ande reputed the Hospitall of Corporis Cristi and of Saynte Thomas of Canterburie,' and from that time, till the dissolution of the gild, the history is rather that of the gild than of the hospital. The master, wardens, and brothers and sisters of St. Thomas's stipulated that they should have the use of 'their beddes and beddrowmez, thaire owen propre liffes duryng, without anny maner of expulsion,' and also that the brethren of the gild were to 'fynde vij almus beddes convenyehtly clothed, for the ease, refresshing, and harbering of pore indigent travaylihg people commyng unto the said hospitall.'

Although the gild of Corpus Christi was dissolved in 1547, the hospital of St. Thomas succeeded in retaining possession of its estates for nearly thirty years longer. In 1551-2 the master, after consulting with the brethren of the hospital, and showing how difficult it was to maintain the house and its poor folks, suggested that they should call in the aid of the lord mayor and aldermen of the city, who were admitted as brothers of the hospital in 1552, when the lord mayor was elected master and two of the aldermen wardens. For some twenty-five years following, the lord mayor for the year, and one of the aldermen, with 'a spiritual man,' continued to fill these offices.

In 1575-6 John Marshe and other citizens of London obtained grants of certain of the possessions of the late gild of Corpus Christi. This was resisted by the master and wardens, and a Special Commission was issued to inquire into the matter. The result was that in February 1582-3 William Marshe and William Plummer, representatives of the original grantees, conveyed the house or gild of Corpus Christi, with all its lands and tenements, to the recorder and town clerk of York, as trustees for the mayor and commonalty of the city of York, to be by them 'ymployed to the mayntenaunce and relief of the poore.' The charity has ever since that time been in the hands of the Corporation.

Robert Mason, LL.D., occurs 1478
John Barnard, died 1551
William Pynder, died 1559
Anthony Iveson, occurs 1579-80 (fn. 222)

The 15th-century seal is a vesica 27/8 in. by 1¾ in., with a seated figure of St. Thomas the archbishop in a canopied niche, blessing and holding his crozier. The legend is:—


'Hospitals: York', in A History of the County of York: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1974), pp. 336-352.

The Guild of Corpus Christi had, up to its dissolution in 1547, managed the hospital of St. Thomas. This hospital was one of six out of the 7 hospitals and almshouses in medieval York , to survive. By 1500 11 had become extintnct or converted to other uses before the Reformation. Those not disolved, including St. Thomas's, St. Anthony's, and St. Catherine's were vigorously functioning under the auspices of the corporation in the Elizabethan period. St Thomas' is documented as caring for the poor in 1556. By the 1570s, there was a change in attitude from medieval hospital to the idea of workhouse. The lord mayor and wardens, surveyed St. Thomas's, St. Anthony's, and Trinity Hospitals together with 'St. John's Hall' in February 1574, and in the subsequent May a systematic scheme for settling some paupers in the three hospitals, while also using them as centres for the distribution of doles to a few others living at home was established. The recipients of both charities were mainly aged, impotent, or widows, some of the latter with children. In 1587 it was stipulated that no poor should be admitted to the hospitals without the assent of the mayor and the wardens. By this stage the creative and original role of York in the evolution of a poor law had passed, though codes suggesting various improvements might still be drawn up. Another role of the masters and betheren of St Thomas' was the keepers of the play books. This is recorded 1568 when the corporation proposed to substitute the Creed Play, but Dean Hutton refused, and the corporation dropped the project and returned the play-books to St. Thomas's Hospital.

A History of the County of York: the City of York, ed. P M Tillott (London, 1961), pp 132,134,147,152,172,185,229,233

A building shown in the approximate location of the Punch Bowl is shown on Speed’s map of 1610. A former building in this location, attached to other buildings extending to the city walls is shown
unlabelled on Chassereau's map of York in 1750, and subsequently by Jeffreys in 1776 when it is
labelled “Thomas’s Hospital”. It is captured in 1782 in The Antiquities of Great Britain, illustrated in View of Monasteries, Castles and Churches now Existing again suggesting a religious history, especially given the Gothic design at this date. It was also painted by Moses Griffith in c.1785 and again in 1787 (reproduced by Hearne & Byrne). The latter refers to it as the Hospital of St Thomas, York. The hospital was reputedly a medieval foundation and a report of the charity commissioners in 1820 described it as 'a house in good repair, containing six apartments on the ground floor and the same number above for the habitation of 12 poor women, who are widows...There is a small garden adjoining' (Charity Commission 1820, 381).

By 1810 the hospital building had been at least partially rebuilt with an anonymous watercolour of
c.1810 (Brown 2012, Fig. 171) showing this renewed building to have been two storeys with two pitched roof end gables (one with an entrance) fronting Blossom Street and a mixture of Gothic and Tudor window types. This part of the building may have become an inn to serve the Blossom Street traffic. It is shown in 1818 in William Hargrove’s History and Description of the Ancient City of York with a women depicted walking through the Blossom Street entrance followed by a horse and cart, suggesting an inn use, although no sign is shown. The use of the building fronting what is now Nunnery Lane appears to have continued as a hospital.

Humble Heritage Heritage Statement

NMR, NMR data (Unassigned). SYO2214.

Victoria County History. Edited by P M Tillott, 1961, A History of the County of York: the City of York (Bibliographic reference). SYO2398.

Victoria County History ed. William Page, 1974, A History of the County of York Volume 3 (Bibliographic reference). SYO2397.

Humble Heritage, 2018, The Punch Bowl, 5-9 Blossom St (Unpublished document). SYO2113.

Sources/Archives (4)

  • --- Unpublished document: Humble Heritage. 2018. The Punch Bowl, 5-9 Blossom St.
  • --- Unassigned: NMR. NMR data.
  • --- Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History ed. William Page. 1974. A History of the County of York Volume 3. 3.
  • --- Bibliographic reference: Victoria County History. Edited by P M Tillott. 1961. A History of the County of York: the City of York.

Protected Status/Designation

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

May 26 2020 4:42PM


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