THE HOSPITAL OF ST. LAWRENCE, NANTWICH
Near the western entrance to Nantwich and at the
opposite end of the town to the hospital of St.
Nicholas stood the hospital of St. Lawrence, probably
on the west bank of the River Weaver where Welsh
Row was later built. (fn. 1) Originally intended for lepers it
existed by 1260 when, in return for the payment of
1d., the lepers received a sester of beer from each
brewing on a messuage in Nantwich. (fn. 2) The hospital
was possibly founded by one of the Norman barons of
Wich Malbank as the advowson of the hospital chapel
seems to have been divided with the barony; at the end
of the 15th century two-thirds of the advowson was
held by the Audley family and one-third by the
Lovells. (fn. 3) By the mid 14th century the function of the
hospital seems to have changed: in 1354 an inquisition
found that it ought to contain beds for three infirm
paupers receiving 1d. a day. In addition there should
have been a chaplain celebrating daily in the hospital
but that service, which was worth 20s. a year, had
lapsed for four years. (fn. 4) Little else is known of the
hospital's history and the fact that further references
are to the 'free chapel' or 'chantry' of St. Lawrence
suggests that it had ceased to function as a hospital. In
1535 the chapel had an annual income from rents of
£4, out of which 4s. was paid in tolls for salt to the
baron of Wich Malbank. (fn. 5) At some point it was
merged with the chapel of St. James in Newhall (Acton
par.) (fn. 6) and the chantry commissioners in 1548 valued
the property of both chapels at £3 16s. a year; there
were bells worth 2s. but no jewels, plate, goods, or
ornaments. (fn. 7) The chapel was dissolved in 1548 and the
last chaplain, Richard Wright, was paid a pension of
£3 8s. 4d. a year until 1562. (fn. 8) Wright continued to
hold the sites and the property of the two chapels
which consisted of two crofts, called St. Lawrence's
croft and Chapel croft, and two salt houses; he died in
1588 possessed of the tithes of 'the formerly dissolved
free chapel of St. Lawrence'. (fn. 9) His widow married
Richard Wilbraham who left money for the building,
in 1613, of almshouses at Welsh Row Head, on or
near the site of the hospital of St. Lawrence. (fn. 10)
Masters or Chaplains
John Fowler, appointed 1499. (fn. 11)
John Incent, B.C.L., occurs 1535. (fn. 12)
Richard Wright, occurs 1545. (fn. 13)
No seal is known.
||Hall, Nantwich, 53–4. The dedication was popular for
leper hospitals: R. M. Clay, Mediaeval Hospitals of Eng.
||B.L. Harl. MS. 2074, f. 63; Ches. R.O., DWN/1/1; Hall,
||Hall, Nantwich, 54; Cal. Pat. 1494–1509, 164.
||B.L. Harl. MS. 506, ff. 6v., 13. The supposed connexion
with Combermere Abbey (Hall, Nantwich, 54) is based on a
Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 218.
||That chapel was possibly in the fortified manor house of
the Audley fam.: Leland, Itin., ed. Toulin Smith, v. 25.
||Hall, Nantwich, 54.
||Ibid. 54, 488.
Cal. Pat. 1548–9, 47.
||Hall, Nantwich, 54, 372, 436–7, 493.
Cal. Pat. 1494–1509, 164. He was a clerk of the royal
chapel and was appointed by the king who held the advowson after the attainder of James, Lord Audley in 1497.
Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 218. For his career and
benefices see Emden, Biog. Reg. Oxford, ii. 999.
Lancs. & Ches. Rec. ii (R.S.L.C. viii), 395.