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The medieval leper hospital of St Giles

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: The medieval leper hospital of St Giles

List entry Number: 1020915


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Maldon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Maldon

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 01-Jun-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Jul-2003

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 32463

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 are nationally important. A small number of hospitals were established solely for the treatment of leprosy. These leper houses differ from other hospitals in that they were specifically located and arranged to deal with contagious disease. Their main aim was to provide the sufferer with permanent isolation from society. In contrast to other hospitals they were normally located away from population foci.

The medieval leper hospital of St Giles is a unique survival within Essex and one of a small number of medieval hospitals to survive nationally. Documentary evidence points to the existence of ten medieval hospitals in Essex, most founded by the mid-13th century; St Giles' is the only one to survive.

The surviving above ground structure probably represents the chapel of the hospital; the demolished western wing providing the living quarters or hall. Here the foundations will survive enabling a full picture of the plan of the hospital to be reconstructed. Sealed archaeological deposits will contain artefactual and environmental evidence, the study of which will increase our knowledge of material aspects of the life of the hospital.


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


The monument includes the buried and standing remains of St Giles' Hospital, located on Spital Road on the outskirts of the town of Maldon.

Contemporary documents outline the early history of the site. The hospital was founded in 1164 by Henry II for the relief of leprous burgesses of the town. It had a prior/master and a chaplain to say divine service daily in the chapel. During the course of the 13th and 14th centuries, with the numbers afflicted with leprosy decreasing, St Giles' became a general hospital for the poor, aged and infirm. In 1401 the hospital became a free chapel, independent of the control of the parish priest. In 1481 the hospital was conveyed to Beeleigh Abbey, a move approved by Bishop Kemp subject to the Abbott undertaking all burdens of the hospital and undertaking to say Mass at least once a week in the chapel.

With the dissolution of Beeleigh Abbey in 1538 the hospital closed. In 1547 Henry VII granted the land and the hospital buildings to Thomas Dyer and his wife for domestic use. By 1763 the hospital was owned by Lieutenant General Montolieu and was in use as a barn. In 1899 a local historian described the `barn' at Spital Farm as ruinous and delapidated and by 1910 the roof had collapsed. Subsequently taken into the care of Maldon District Council, a town guide dating to 1951 describes the hospital as `now well cared for after years of neglect and used as a farm building.'

The plan of the surviving above ground structure is cruciform: four arms projecting from a central crossing. The northern and southern arms (interpreted as transepts) are both 6 sq m. The eastern arm (the chancel) is slightly longer (7m in length) and the western arm was as much as 10m in length (based on limited archaeological excavations). It is possible that the western arm served as the hall for the hospital inmates, providing both living and sleeping accommodation, whilst the rest of the building served as the hospital chapel.

The structure is roofless. The surviving walls, of flint rubble with reused Roman brick, are predominantly of 12th century date with some 13th and 14th century alterations. Limestone is used for door and window dressings. The walls maintain a height of approximately 3.5m along most of their course, except for the southernmost wall of the southern arm which is 7m at its apex.

The southern arm of the hospital contains a 12th century round arch with plain responds of Roman brick in its east wall. The west wall has part of a round arch of 12th century date and the southern wall has a 13th century graduated triplet of lancet windows.

The northern arm has, in its west wall, a 12th century round-headed window and a doorway with segmental-pointed rear-arch of the 14th century, together with a few courses of surviving 14th century mouldings. The eastern wall retains the remains of Roman brick arch responds and is pierced by a 17th or 18th century doorway.

The western arm of the hospital has been almost completely removed above ground (except for the very beginnings of the side walls). Wall foundations will survive below ground however, and consequently this area is included in the scheduling.

The eastern arm has only its northern wall and foundations of its southern wall visible, the upstanding wall including a moulded internal string-course dating from the late 12th century and below this a rough relieving arch of Roman bricks. The hospital is Listed Grade I.

The scheduling includes the grassed over area surrounding the monument and enclosed by fencing. This area will contain below ground remains of the monument and associated archaeological features, possibly including burials associated with the hospital.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Knowles, D , Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, (1971), 327, 76
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex: Volume II Central and South-West Essex, (1921), 177-8
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex: Volume II Central and South-West Essex, (1921), 177-8
Maldon Archaeological Group, , 'Hist. Research incl. Dowsing Survey' in St. Giles' Leper Hospital, Maldon, (1983)
Maldon Archaeological Group, , 'Hist. Research incl. Dowsing Survey' in St. Giles' Leper Hospital, Maldon, (1983)
Archaeology Section, Essex County Council Planning, Maldon Historic Towns Project Assessment Report, (1999)
Includes Historical Notes, Laws, FH, Report to Maldon Society on proposed Investigation of St Giles', (1958)
Includes Historical Notes, Laws, FH, Report to Maldon Society on proposed Investigation of St Giles', (1958)
Ordnance Survey, Ordnance Survey Card TL80 NW12, (1949)

National Grid Reference: TL 84328 06484


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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1020915 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 24-Sep-2018 at 02:07:57.

End of official listing