Victoria County History



Willam Page (editor)

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'Hospitals: Ospringe', A History of the County of Kent: Volume 2 (1926), pp. 222-224. URL: Date accessed: 26 November 2014.


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In several grants of relief from taxation made to this hospital in the fourteenth century, on account of its alleged poverty, (fn. 1) it is said to have been founded by Henry III. It was dedicated to St. Mary, and references to the hospital of St. Nicholas without Ospringe, (fn. 2) and the hospital of St. John, Ospringe, (fn. 3) are probably merely wrong descriptions of it. We first hear of it in 1234, when the king granted to the warden the surplus corn on the manor of Ospringe. (fn. 4) The patronage always belonged to the crown, the earlier masters being appointed during pleasure only; and in 1316 the archdeacon of Canterbury was forbidden to exact a procuration from the master and brethren, as the hospital, which was of the alms of the king's progenitors and founded upon a lay fee, had always been free and exempt from ordinary jurisdiction and from all contributions and procurations. (fn. 5)

Henry III made grants to the hospital in 1239 of a house in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch, London, (fn. 6) and in 1240 of land called ' La Denne' in the parish of Headcorn with the advowson of the church of Headcorn and land in Twithan, Staple, Adisham, Wingham, and ' Hammewolde'; (fn. 7) and in 1252 he granted land in Trienstone in Romney Marsh for the finding of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the hospital the mass of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 8) In 1246 he granted to the brethren numerous liberties, (fn. 9) and in 1251 a weekly market at their manor of Headcorn and a yearly fair there on the vigil, the feast, and the morrow of Sts. Peter and Paul. (fn. 10) A number of grants by private donors were confirmed to them in 1247 (fn. 11) and 1315. (fn. 12)

In 1245 Robert abbot of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, granted to them the right of burial of brethren wearing the habit and of infirm who might die in the hospital, and also granted that the priests ministering in the hospital might hear the confessions of and otherwise minister to the brethren and the poor there, but all emoluments were reserved to the mother church of Faversham and all its rights reserved. In return for these concessions the brethren were to pay to the abbey 12d. and two pounds of wax yearly. (fn. 13)

In 1384 the temporalities of the house were taxed at £51 5s. and the church of Headcorn at £13 6s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 14)

Edward I in 1278 granted two beeches for her fuel to Juliana, sometime damsel of his mother Eleanor, dwelling in the hospital. (fn. 15) In 1292 he sent Ralph le Bedel, who had also been in the service of the same queen, to receive maintenance in the hospital for life; (fn. 16) and the appointments of several other inmates by him and later kings are recorded. Edward III in 1330 granted to the master and brethren that they should be free from providing sustenance out of their house such as at the request of the late king they had granted to Robert le Messager; (fn. 17) but nevertheless sent Gilbert de Sheffeld there in 1335. (fn. 18) Richard II in 1382 granted to John Lovyn the reversion of the next vacant chaplaincy in the hospital. (fn. 19) In 1397 the master and brethren granted to Philip Wen, rector of Crundale, a chamber in the hospital and a corrody for life with various detailed provisions, which were confirmed by Henry IV in 1401. (fn. 20)

Nicholas de Staple, the master, was removed from the hospitalin 1314 on account of dissensions between himself and the brethren, and sent to be received as a brother in the hospital of St. John, Oxford; (fn. 21) one of the brethren of this house being sent to Ospringe in his place; (fn. 22) but in 1334 he was allowed to return as one of the brethren to Ospringe. (fn. 23) Thomas Urre and Robert de Chilham were similarly removed from Ospringe in 1332, the former being sent to St. John's, Oxford. (fn. 24)

In 1331 Master Robert de Cantuaria and John de Wyndesore were ordered to make a visitation to the hospital, reported to be greatly decayed for lack of good rule, and to remedy any abuses which they might find. (fn. 25) Probably there was not much fault, for in 1333 John de Lenham, the master, who had been appointed during pleasure, received a grant of his office during good behaviour, on proof that he had ruled the house well and greatly relieved it by his industry. (fn. 26) Another visitation was directed in 1422, (fn. 27) but on this occasion the hospital was found to have fallen into decay through bad governance, and was sequestrated and committed to the custody of the bishop of London and the two visitors, the abbot of Faversham and John Martyn. (fn. 28) In 1458 the abbot of Faversham, the archdeacon of Canterbury and others were appointed to inquire into dilapidations and alienations committed by John Bacheler, warden; (fn. 29) with the result that the latter resigned shortly afterwards. (fn. 30)

In 1387 Thomas, the master, made application to the crown for the arrest of Richard Evesham, a vagabond brother. (fn. 31)

Archbishop Warham made a visitation (fn. 32) of the house on 28 September, 1511. Master Woodruff, professor of theology, the warden, said that he believed that in the first foundation the warden and fellows were priests professed of the order of the Holy Cross and used to wear the cross on their shoulders. When Master Darell, the brother of John Darell, kt., was warden, he and his three fellow priests were professed and used to wear the cross. One of the present fellows had obtained a benefice by papal permission.

Henry VIII on 10 March, 1516, granted (fn. 33) the advowson of the house in mortmain to the college of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, founded by Margaret, countess of Richmond; and it was appropriated to the college by her executors. (fn. 34) Its possessions, including the manors of Trianstone, Headcorn, Downe, Tangerton, Borstall, and Elverland, are set out in detail in an inquisition (fn. 34a) taken in November, 1518, where it is said that there were in it originally a master and three brethren, professed of the order of the Holy Cross, and two secular clerks, but that on the death of Robert Darell, master, no brethren remained, and so the hospital became secular.

Masters Or Wardens Of Ospringe

Geoffrey, occurs 1234 (fn. 35)
Henry de Cobeham, occurs 1235 (fn. 36)
William Gracien, occurs 1242, (fn. 37) 1247 (fn. 38)
Roger, occurs 1258 (fn. 38a)
Walter, occurs 1274 (fn. 39)
Peter, occurs 1287, (fn. 40) 1294 (fn. 41)
Alexander de Staple, appointed 1295 (fn. 42)
Nicholas de Staple, appointed 1310, (fn. 43) removed 1314 (fn. 44)
Henry de Tenham, appointed 1314, (fn. 45) died 1319 (fn. 46)
Adam de Esshe, appointed 1319, (fn. 47) died 1330 (fn. 48)
John de Lenham, appointed 1330, (fn. 48) died 1349 (fn. 49)
William de Newenham, appointed 1349 (fn. 49)
Thomas de Newenham, appointed 1349 (fn. 50)
Paul de Dunton, resigned (fn. 51)
Thomas Honyngham, occurs 1378 (fn. 52)
John Carleton, appointed 1396, (fn. 53) resigned 1401 (fn. 54)
John Cranebourne, appointed 1401, (fn. 54) resigned 1411 (fn. 55)
John atte See, appointed 1411, (fn. 55) resigned 1412 (fn. 55a)
William Gamyn, appointed 1412 (fn. 55b)
John Fakenham, occurs 1416 (fn. 55)
William Palmer, occurs 1422 (fn. 56)
James Jerkevile, appointed 1428 (fn. 57)
Andrew Bircheford, occurs 1434 (fn. 58)
James Jerkevyle, occurs 1445 (fn. 58a)
John Bacheler, occurs 1452, (fn. 58b) resigned 1458 (fn. 59)
Robert Darell, appointed 1458, (fn. 59) died 1470 (fn. 60)
John Pemberton, appointed 1470, (fn. 60) resigned 1472 (fn. 61)
Stephen Close, appointed 1472, (fn. 61) resigned 1473 (fn. 62)
Thomas Asshby, appointed 1473, (fn. 62) resigned 1490 (fn. 63)
Robert Woderove, appointed 1490, (fn. 63) died 1515 (fn. 64)
John Underhill, appointed 1515, (fn. 64) the last master (fn. 65)

The seal (fn. 66) of the hospital (thirteenth century) is a pointed oval measuring about 2 in. by 1½ in., and represents a seeded fleur-de-lis. Legend:—


Another seal (fn. 67) (thirteenth century) is a pointed oval measuring about 2 in. by 1¼ in. representing a patriarchal cross, between four circular panels, the upper two containing each a saint's head, the lower each an ox's head. Legend:—



1 e.g. Close, 19 Edw. II, m. 23.
2 Pat. 31 Hen. III, m. 6.
3 Close, 17 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 27d.
4 Ibid. 18 Hen. III, m. 13, 12.
5 Ibid. 10 Edw. II, m. 24d.
6 Chart. R. 23 Hen. III, m. 7.
7 Ibid. 24 Hen. III, m. 1.
8 Ibid. 26 Hen. III, m. 11.
9 Ibid. 30 Hen. III, m. 6.
10 Ibid. 35 Hen. III, m. 6.
11 Ibid. 31 Hen. III, m. 8.
12 Pat. 8 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 20.
13 Twysden, Decem Scriptores, 1893.
14 Ibid. 2168.
15 Close, 6 Edw. I, m. 12.
16 Ibid. 20 Edw. I, m. 11 d.
17 Pat. 4 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 41.
18 Close, 9 Edw. III, m. 18d.
19 Pat. 6 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 30.
20 Pat. 3 Hen. IV, pt. 1, m. 32.
21 Close, 7 Edw. II, m. 5.
22 Ibid. 1 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 10.
23 Ibid. 8 Edw. III, m. 9d.
24 Ibid. 6 Edw. III, m. 29d.
25 Pat. 5 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 1d.
26 Ibid. 7 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 10.
27 Ibid. 1 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 25d.
28 Ibid. 2 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 34.
29 Ibid. 37 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 16d.
30 Ibid. m. 13.
31 Chan. Warrants, 1769.
32 Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Warham, fol. 40b.
33 L. and P. Hen. VIII, ii, 1647.
34 Ibid. 4183.
35 a Chan. Inq. (Ser. 2), vol. 79, No. 258.
35 Close, 18 Hen. III, m. 13, 12.
36 Feet of F. Kent, 19 Hen. III.
37 Ibid. 26 Hen. III.
38 Pat. 31 Hen. III, m. 8.
39 a Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 487.
39 Feet of F. Kent, 2 Edw. I.
40 Pat. 3 Edw. III, m. 14.
41 Ibid. 22 Edw. I, m. 6d.
42 Ibid. 23 Edw. I, m. 7. Alexander occurs in 1309 (Pat. 3 Edw. III, m. 14).
43 Ibid. 4 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 13.
44 Close, 7 Edw. II, m. 5.
45 Pat. 7 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 15.
46 Close, 12 Edw. II, m. 11.
47 Ibid.; Pat. 12 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 18.
48 Pat. 4 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 38.
49 Ibid. 23 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 13.
50 Ibid. pt. 2, m. 9.
51 Ibid. 2 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 41.
52 Ibid. The mastership was granted to him for life by Edw. III, and confirmed by Ric. II. Thomas occurs as master in 1365 (Chan. Misc. bdle. 20, No. 4), and 1387 (Pat. 11 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 29d.)
53 Pat. 20 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 17.
54 Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 4, m. 16.
55 Ibid. 12 Hen. IV, m. 6.
55 a Ibid. 14 Hen. IV, m. 30.
55 b Ibid.
55 c Assize R. 1528, m. 32d.
56 Cal. Papal Let. vii, 222.
57 Pat. 6 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 1.
58 Ibid. 12 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 23. He was probably a Knight Hospitaller, for he is called Brother Andrew Bircheford, knight, of ' Swynfeld.'
58 a De Banco, East. 23 Hen. VI, m. 94d.
58 b Harl. Chart. 76. A. 25.
59 Pat. 37 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 13. His seal is preserved in Harl. Chart. 77. F. 16.
60 Pat. 49 Hen. VI, m. 19.
61 Ibid. 12 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 25.
62 Ibid: 13 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 14.
63 Ibid. S Hen. VII, m. 26 (10).
64 L. and P. Hen. VIII, ii, 169.
65 Ibid. 4183.
66 B.M. Seals, lxv, 89.
67 Ibid. 90.