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St Nicholas' medieval hospital 550m East of Brick Yard Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Pickering, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2511 / 54°15'4"N

Longitude: -0.7979 / 0°47'52"W

OS Eastings: 478421.519723

OS Northings: 484603.609395

OS Grid: SE784846

Mapcode National: GBR QMW8.1V

Mapcode Global: WHF9W.QD8W

Entry Name: St Nicholas' medieval hospital 550m East of Brick Yard Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020763

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35469

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Pickering

Built-Up Area: Pickering

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Pickering St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: York

Details

The monument includes earthwork and buried remains of the medieval
hospital of St Nicholas at Pickering. It is located in the northern part
of the field known as Chapel Close on the south side of Street Lane to the
west side of the town. It is situated on an area of raised, dry land to
the west of the wet and low lying flood zone of the Costa Beck which in
medieval times was also likely to be boggy.

The date of the foundation of the hospital is not known but it is known to
have been in existence in 1301 when it was mentioned in the Lay Subsidy
Roll. The hospital lay within the Royal Liberty of Pickering and in the
14th century was under the control of the Duke of Lancaster. In 1374 John
of Gaunt granted the custody of the hospital with all the lands and assets
belonging to it to Roger de Benyngton who held the chantry chapel within
Pickering Castle. A condition of the granting was that de Benyngton should
pay for the cost of repairs to the hospital and the chapel from his own
pocket. It is likely that this led to the association of the hospital with
the chapel and hence the name Chapel Close for the location of the
hospital.

The remains of the hospital were partly excavated in 1940 by some pupils
from Lady Lumley's Grammar School, Pickering. The excavations revealed the
stone foundations of a rectangular building that conformed to the usual
plan of the infirmary hall of a small medieval hospital. Although the
walls only stood approximately 0.5m high the plan, form and internal
arrangements of this structure could be clearly understood. The building
comprised a rectangular structure orientated east to west with external
dimensions of approximately 15.5m by 5.5m. The surviving walls were found
to be between 0.75m and 1.37m thick. The building was divided internally
into two main areas. The infirmary hall, which housed the hospital inmates
occupied the western two thirds of the building and a small separate
chapel, a feature of all medieval hospitals, was located at the eastern
end. The chapel was separated from the main body of the hall by a stone
archway. Within the chapel the excavations revealed an altar step at the
eastern end and the rubble core of an altar against the eastern wall. At
the western end of the infirmary hall a short wall extending across half
of the nave divided off a small room, which has been identified as the
lodgings for the warden or chaplain. Stone benches were found along the
south wall of the infirmary hall and on both sides of the chapel. The
entrance into the hospital was a doorway 1.2m wide in the western end of
the south wall. Outside the building a pitched stone path extended south
west and a further path headed to the modern road. The excavations were
filled in subsequent to the investigations but the remains of the walls
and the interior can still be seen as an earth covered rectangular
platform standing 0.5m high. On the western end, the top course of the
west wall is partly exposed.

There were two broad types of medieval hospital, those which tended to the
sick and those which cared for the poor. The buildings at these differed
in form and function, one primary difference being that an infirmary hall
was found at hospitals for the sick. The presence of an infirmary hall at
the Pickering hospital indicates that it was primarily for the sick.

Medieval hospitals were often enclosed within a wider area known as a
precinct or close, which was defined by a bank, wall or fence. Within this
area would be a range of buildings and features which could include a
kitchen, cemetery accommodation for travellers and a medicinal herb
garden. At the Pickering hospital the close has been identified by the
edge of the dry, raised land which slopes sharply to a shallow ditch along
the southern and eastern sides of the area. This ditch served to define
the area of the close and also to drain the water from the adjacent low
lying flood lands. The western edge of the close is currently unknown but
the protected area has been drawn along the edge of the fence line to the
west defining an area which measures 70m by 30m. Two shallow ditches
extend north to south across the close which are thought to be the remains
of original features dividing the close into separate areas. These
ditches as well as other earthworks can be identified on the ground and
are clearly visible on aerial photographs. Medieval hospitals do not
follow any general plan and the precise nature and function of these other
features in the close is currently unknown.

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 site of the hospital of St Nicholas has been partly excavated but
significant remains still survive. Important remains of the internal
structure of the infirmary hall are still preserved and evidence of the
development of the building and how it functioned are retained. In
addition there are important remains of the wider close of the hospital
still preserved below ground. The hospital was also associated with the
royal castle at Pickering. Taken as whole, the evidence from the
excavation, the potential of further surviving remains, and the link with
the royal castle means that the hospital offers an important contribution
to the study of medieval life in the north of England.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Fox, G E, 'The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Hospital Of St Nicholas Pickering, , Vol. vol 139, (1941), 326-329

Source: Historic England

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