St John the Baptist's Hospital

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017854

Date first listed: 03-Jul-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Jan-1993

Map

Ordnance survey map of St John the Baptist's Hospital
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Buckinghamshire

District: Wycombe (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: SU 87016 92835

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A medieval hospital is a group of buildings housing a religious or secular institution which provided spiritual and medical care. The idea for such institutions originated in the Anglo-Saxon period although the first definite foundations were created by Anglo-Norman bishops and queens in the 11th century. Documentary sources indicate that by the mid 16th century there were around 800 hospitals. A further 300 are also thought to have existed but had fallen out of use by this date. Half of the hospitals were suppressed by 1539 as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Some smaller institutions survived until 1547 when they were dissolved by Edward VI. Many of these smaller hospitals survived as almshouses, some up to the present day. Despite the large number of hospitals known from documentary sources to have existed, generally only the larger religious ones have been exactly located. Few hospitals retain upstanding remains and very few have been examined by excavation. In view of these factors all positively identified hospitals retaining significant medieval remains will be identified as nationally important.

The Hospital of St John the Baptist is a rare example of a medieval hospital surviving in a town and includes substantial architectural remains of a 12th century infirmary hall and chapel in addition to archaeological remains below the ground surface.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the known upstanding and buried remains of a medieval hospital dedicated to St John the Baptist and identified as an infirmary hall and associated chapel. The site is situated on level ground immediately north of the River Wye on the old London to Oxford Road, in the town of High Wycombe. The upstanding remains, which survive to over 3m high in places, contain a number of features which identify them as the infirmary hall of the hospital complex, built in about 1180 AD. This structure has four aisles and would have been where the poor and infirm were ministered to by the hospital's lay brothers. It is constructed of flint with stone dressings. There is also a detached wall to the south east which is believed to be part of the chapel and is dated to the 13th century. This wall displays wide mortar joints, unlike the remains of the infirmary. In 1235, during the reign of Henry III, the hospital was staffed by a Master and both lay brothers and sisters. By 1344 the hospital was in the patronage of the mayor and burgesses of the town and it remained so until the Dissolution. In 1550 the building was converted into a school and subsequently, when the new school was built in the 19th century, the original remains were carefully preserved. The structure displays rare surviving 12th century architectural features, including round piers and unmoulded arches. Although no longer visible at ground level, buried archaeological remains related to the history of the site will survive, as well as remains of collapsed walls within the raised area to the eastern end of the site. The full original extent of the hospital is unknown and remains may also survive outside the scheduled area. The infirmary hall is Listed Grade II.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 21702

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Langley, T, The History and Antiquities of the Hundred of Desborough, (1797), 61
Willis, B, Notitia parliamentaria, (1716)
Parker, J, 'Archaeologia' in Account of the Hospital of St John Baptist, Wycombe, , Vol. 48, (1885), 285-92
Parker, J, 'Records of Buckinghamshire' in Hospital of St John Baptist, Wycombe, , Vol. 5, (1883), 245-8
Other
CAO, SMR CASS 00376: St John the Baptist's Hospital,
St John Baptists Hospital, Buckinghamshire,
St John Baptists Hospital, Buckinghamshire,
St John Baptists Hospital, Buckinghamshire,
St John Baptists Hospital, Buckinghamshire,

End of official listing