50. THE HOSPITAL OF WESTHAM
The particulars of this hospital, which lay in
the parish of Westham, and in the lowey,
'league,' or liberty of Pevensey, can best be
given in the words of the sixteenth century
English version of the Pevensey Custumal:— (fn. 1)
The Men of the Burgage of the Towne of Pevensey have an Hospital of Saynte John Baptiste, in the
whiche been brothers or sisters, havynge londes
and possessions within the Leege aforesaide, and the
same Receyvour and the Men of the saide Burgage
have the disposicion of the saide Hospitall, to graunte
Corodye, as well to men as to women, as they
may consente. And they have to visit and chaste
after the quantitie. And one of the Men of the
Burgage alway shalbe Overseer and Superior of that
Hospitall, to oversee the expense, and the accompte
of the Master of the saide Hospitall. Also the saide
Receyvour and the Men may, yf there be to be hadde
a Man or Woman of the saide Burgage, the whiche
is come into povertie and have not whereof to lyve,
and have borne him or her well by all his or her lyffe,
that same Man or Woman in the forsaide Hospitall
ther sustenances in the same shall take, nothing paying
for the same.
Of its early history nothing is known, but
casual references (fn. 2) to 'the hospital' show that
some such house was in existence before the end
of the thirteenth century. A Pevensey rental
of 1292 (fn. 3) mentions ' the master of the hospital of
the Holy Cross,' but no other reference to this
establishment is known; it may have been the
predecessor of the hospital of St. John the
Baptist, of which 'the brethren' are mentioned
in a rental of 1354. (fn. 4) About the middle of the
fifteenth century William Slyhand left 40s. to
the hospital of St. John in Westham, (fn. 5) and in
1489 Henry Dawson left 6s. 8d. to the same
house. (fn. 6) After the Reformation the issues of
the hospital were devoted to the support of
almshouses, the distribution of food, and other
charitable purposes. (fn. 7)
Suss. Arch. Coll. xviii, 50.
||In Mins. Accts. passim.
||Rentals and Surv. (P.R.O.), No. 663.
||Ibid. No. 667.
||Early Chanc. Proc. bdle. 16, No. 679.
||Will in P.C.C. Milles, fol. 159.
Rep. of Char. Com. 773.