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St John the Baptist's Hospital

A Scheduled Monument in Abbey, Buckinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6276 / 51°37'39"N

Longitude: -0.7442 / 0°44'39"W

OS Eastings: 487019.882629

OS Northings: 192832.82149

OS Grid: SU870928

Mapcode National: GBR D54.YFN

Mapcode Global: VHDW5.1CX4

Entry Name: St John the Baptist's Hospital

Scheduled Date: 3 July 1933

Last Amended: 4 January 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017854

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21702

County: Buckinghamshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Abbey

Built-Up Area: High Wycombe

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: High Wycombe All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Source: Historic England

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,

Source: Historic England

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