St Mary Magdalene, Clothall


Victoria County History



William Page (editor)

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'Hospitals: St Mary Magdalene, Clothall', A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 4 (1971), pp. 460-461. URL: Date accessed: 23 November 2014.


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The leper hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, Baldock, was founded within the boundary of Clothall parish, apparently at the beginning of the 13th century, by Sir Hugh de Clothall, kt., (fn. 1) lord of the manor, the patronage remaining with the owners of the manor. (fn. 2)

In April 1226 Henry III gave the brothers leave to have a fair at their hospital outside Baldock on the vigil and feast of St. Bartholomew until his majority, and ordered the Sheriff of Hertfordshire to have the fair proclaimed throughout his bailiwick, (fn. 3) but as he came of age in January 1227 and the grant was not renewed, they can only have held the fair once. The brothers and those sent by them to preach for the lepers' maintenance were also given royal letters of protection to last for a year from Christmas 1226. (fn. 4) Pope Innocent IV in 1244 took under the protection of St. Peter the master and brothers, their house and present and future possessions. (fn. 5)

A charter of the 13th century concerning a small grant to the lamp of St. Nicholas (fn. 6) mentions that the chapel was served by two priests. This church was inconveniently situated outside the close at some distance from the hospital, and the master and brothers on 26 April 1275 obtained licence from the king to inclose the intervening high road 588 ft. long and 17 ft. broad on condition that they made another on their own ground. (fn. 7) A few years later the house itself became untenable owing to its solitary position. (fn. 8) The brothers suffered such damage from robbers, who attacked and set fire to the place, that the patrons, John de Hauvill and John de Poleye and his wife Muriel, (fn. 9) allowed them to remove to another spot in the parish, providing, however, that the chapel should be built on their fee in 'le Brada' and that a mass should be celebrated every day at the old foundation for the souls of Sir Hugh de Clothall, his wife and parents. (fn. 10) The new hospital was finished in 1308, since leave was then given by the Bishop of Lincoln for the brethren to dwell there and have services in the chapel on obtaining the rector's consent. (fn. 11)

Royal protection for a year was granted in December 1325 to the master, John de Wotton. (fn. 12)

The office of warden or master was held more than once with other livings. In 1384 Richard II presented the warden, John atte Lee, to a church in South Wales (fn. 13) ; in 1446 the pope provided John Bagot, the then master, to a canonry in the college of South Malling, (fn. 14) and in 1526 the master, Thomas Dalison, was rector of Clothall. (fn. 15)

As usual it is difficult to discover how long the place was really a hospital. There is no actual reference to the brothers after 1308, though no doubt a community existed there until much later (fn. 16) ; but as in 1446 it is styled the hospital or free chapel of Clothall (fn. 17) it had evidently already become a mere chantry, which under the name of hospital (fn. 18) survived until the reign of Edward VI. Its net value was returned in 1535 as £3 2s. 8d., (fn. 19) in 1547-8 as £3 11s. 11¼d. (fn. 20)

Masters or Wardens of Clothall Hospital

J., chaplain, instituted 1242-3 (fn. 21)

John, died 1265 (fn. 22)

Reynold de Little Stokton, instituted 1265, (fn. 23) resigned 1301 (fn. 24)

Walter de Little Stokton, instituted 1301, (fn. 25) resigned 1314 (fn. 26)

John de Wotton, instituted 1314, (fn. 27) occurs 3 December 1325, (fn. 28) died 1349 (fn. 29)

John de Leecheworth, instituted 1349 (fn. 30)

John atte Lee, occurs 16 July 1384 (fn. 31)

William Tamworth (fn. 32)

John Bagot, occurs October 1446 (fn. 33)

Walter Dyer, instituted 1453, (fn. 34) resigned 1468 (fn. 35)

John Edom, instituted 1468, (fn. 36) occurs 20 October 1473, (fn. 37) died 1474 (fn. 38)

William Hanford, instituted 1474 (fn. 39)

John Serle, resigned 1486 (fn. 40)

William Frank, instituted 1486, (fn. 41) resigned 1491 (fn. 42)

William Exham, instituted 1491, (fn. 43) died 1493 (fn. 44)

William Awnger, instituted 1493, (fn. 45) died 1502 (fn. 46)

Thomas Dalison, instituted 1502, (fn. 47) occurs 1526, (fn. 48) died 1541 (fn. 49)

Thomas Boldron, instituted 1541 (fn. 50)


1 Harl. Chart. 112 A 3.
2 The descendants of Simon, Hugh's brother and successor (V.C.H. Herts. iii, 222).
3 Rot. Lit. Claus. (Rec. Com.), ii, 107.
4 Cal. Pat. 1225-32, p. 95.
5 Harl. Chart. 111 A 16.
6 Ibid. 112 C 14.
7 Inq. a.q.d. file 4, no. 7; Cal. Pat. 1272-81, p. 85.
8 It was evidently in a lonely spot, for a premeditated murder was committed in the road by the hospital in 1284-5 (Assize R. 325, m. 31 d.).
9 Daughter of Simon de Clothall (V.C.H. Herts. iii, 222).
10 Harl. Chart. 112 A 3. Perhaps this meant that these services were not to be discontinued at the old chapel until they could be performed in the new.
11 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Dalderby, fol. 239.
12 Cal. Pat. 1324-7, p. 192.
13 Cal. Pat. 1381-5, p. 443.
14 Cal. of Papal Letters, viii, 310.
15 Salter, A Subsidy Collected in the Dioc. of Linc. in 1526, p. 179.
16 The human remains found near the traditional site of the hospital seem to indicate that the house had a burial-ground (H. C. Andrews, 'The Hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, Baldock and Clothall,' East Herts. Arch. Soc. Trans. iv, pt. 1, 90).
17 Cal. of Papal Letters, viii, 310.
18 It is called hospital in Chan. Inq. p.m. 33 Hen. VI, no. 31; 4 Edw. IV, no. 25; (Ser. 2), i, 134; xi, 12; free chapel or hospital in the Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 278.
19 Valor Eccl. loc. cit.
20 Chant. Cert. 20, no. 65. It is described here as a free chapel, founded towards finding a priest for ever. The foundation cannot be shown. The chapel was distant from the church a mile or more. It had no plate, jewels, goods or chattels.
21 Linc. Epis. Reg. Grosteste R. 8.
22 Clutterbuck, Hist. and Antiq. of Herts. iii, 506. Probably the man instituted by Bishop Grosteste.
23 Ibid.
24 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Dalderby, fol. 231 d. Reginald occurs 1290-1 (Lay Subs. R. bdle. 120, no. 2).
25 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Dalderby, fol. 231 d.
26 Ibid. fol. 248.
27 Ibid.
28 Cal. Pat. 1324-7, p. 192.
29 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Gynwell, fol. 343.
30 Ibid.
31 Cal. Pat. 1381-5, P. 443.
32 Early Chan. Proc. bdle. 3, no. 34. He exchanged with John Bernard, parson of Elstree, who could not obtain the office vacated and petitioned the chancellor on the subject. The case occurred between 1386 and 1413.
33 Cal. of Papal Letters, viii, 310.
34 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Chedworth, fol. 186.
35 Ibid. fol. 199 d.
36 Ibid.
37 Add. Chart. 35385.
38 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Rotheram, fol. 111 d.
39 Ibid.
40 Ibid. Inst. Russell, fol. 138.
41 Ibid.
42 Ibid. fol. 142.
43 Ibid.
44 Ibid. fol. 144.
45 Ibid.
46 Ibid. Inst. Smith, fol. 407 d.
47 Ibid.
48 Salter, op. cit. 179.
49 Clutterbuck, op. cit. iii, 507.
50 Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Longland, fol. 233 d.