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St Margaret's Hospital

The hospital of St Margaret was founded before 1328, and is also referred to as the hospital by the Spittlegate (the word Spital often refers to leper hospitals). It appears to be the same as St Leonard’s, so it could be a rededication.

In 1857 and again in 1991 a Christian cemetery was excavated on London Road some 500m from Wharf Road. This could be the site of the cemetery to St Margaret’s Hospital, and if it is, the hospital buildings are likely to lie nearby. Three of the skeletons excavated in 1991 showed signs of having had leprosy.

Medieval hospitals were not like modern hospitals; the origin of the word is the Latin hospites, meaning guests. One definition of a medieval hospital is ‘a group of buildings which housed a religious or secular institution which provided spiritual and (limited) bodily care.’ There were four main types of hospital: leper houses (like St Margaret’s may have been), almshouses, guest houses for wayfarers and pilgrims, and institutions for the poor and sick.

 

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Last updated: 3 March 2011

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