Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
Site now occupied by housing.
8 Mar 2021
Hospital of St Edmund King and Martyr, Gateshead
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'The origin of the hospital of St. Edmund the King is unknown. The earliest mention of it occurs in 1315, when the bishop of Durham collated Hugh de Lokington to the wardenship, and directed the bailiff of Gateshead to put him in seisin of the hospital. There is no contemporary record of the endowment, but in a report of the house issued by the Royal Commissioners, in 1594, it is stated that its possessions consisted of 'a demesne lying at the hospital and a parcel of ground called Shotley Bridge,' the total value of which is given as £10. In October, 1378, Bishop Hatfield, who had earlier in the year ordered a visitation of the house, granted to it in free alms three cottages 'all lying within the soil of the said hospital'; and in Hatfield's Survey c. 1382) it is stated that the master of the hospital of St. Edmund the King holds 'placeam pro quodam chamino' from the hospital as far as Friar's Goose (le Frergos) by the park of the lord of the same, for which a rent of 4d. was paid.
Bishop Neville granted to the master a licence to work coals in the hospital lands and lead them to the Tyne, over the bishop's soil, paying to him and his successors £5 per annum; and Bishop Booth (1467-8) gave permission for the coals to be carried to the bishop's staithes on the river.
The hospital was founded for poor persons of both sexes. In Bishop Hatfield's grant its inmates are described as 'brethren, sisters, and paupers.' The report of 1594 states that a sum of 13s. per annum was assigned for the relief of each poor brother and sister, and the rest of the revenue of the house, excepting what was spent on repairs, was at the disposal of the master. The inmates were admitted, removed, and corrected at the master's discretion.
Beyond occasional notices of the appointment of masters there is scarcely any mention of the house until 1546, when the following account of it is given by the commissioners appointed by Henry VIII:
The hospital of St. Edmund in the parish of Gateshead was founded by the predecessors of the bishops (sic) of Durham by report, but to what intent or purpose we know not, for we have not yet seen the foundation thereof. Yearly value, 109s. 4d.—value according to this survey £8 as appeareth by rental; whereof is paid out for the King's Majesty's tenths 12s. 3d. and remaineth clearly £7 7s. 9d., which Dr. Bellasis, now Master of the same, hath towards his living, and giveth out of the same four marks by the year to a priest to say Mass there twice in the week for the commodity and easement of the parishioners that do dwell far from the Parish Church. It stands about half a mile distant from the Parish Church of Gateshead aforesaid. Value of ornaments, etc., nil, for there be neither goods ne ornaments pertaining to the same to our knowledge. There were no other lands nor yearly profits, etc.
Though, in 1594, the inmates had dwindled to three—two old men and one woman—the hospital continued to exist after the dissolution, and was re-founded by James I in January, 1610-11. Unfortunately all the documents relating to the house from the time of its foundation had been entrusted, in 1587, to John Woodfall, the then master. He died almost immediately afterwards at his home in London, the evidences were lost, and no trace has been found of them since. James ordained that the establishment should consist of a master and three poor men, and should be called 'King James' Hospital'; and he endowed it with the house and lands 'which the master and brethren had uninterruptedly held and enjoyed for the last sixty years.' Since the date of King James' foundation the rectors of Gateshead have successively occupied the position of master of the hospital.'
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