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in consequence of a statement made at the Meeting by the Deputy
Steward, Mr. Meyler. All that is now given is based upon entries in
the Records themselves and on the "Customary," presented by the
Jury in 1647, by order of Parliament.

W. A. J.


FEW who possess a taste for the work of mediaeval
hands can enter Taunton by the London road
without having their attention arrested by a picturesque
old building wherein, although of humble aspect, the evi-
dences of such presence are conspicuous. It occupies the
angle between the highway and a lane, still called Mill
Lane, which led to the famous mills of Tobrigge on the
Tone, now and long since removed, and of which, apart
from the information derived from ancient documents, the
name of the green lane which led to them is the only
existing memorial. The building is a long, low, and
narrow structure, unmistakeably a row of almshouses, and
consists of seven distinct tenements, each with a staircase
communicating with a room above. The walls are of
stone, faced for the most part with plaster, and covered
with a thatched roof of considerable pitch. The first and
last tenements stand out in advance of the five middle
ones, but the roof is carried on continuously from one

(Vol. ivill., p. 101.)


to the other, supported along the intervening space by
thirteen wooden posts rising from a parapet wall, and thus
forms with them a kind of cloister out of which the doors
open to the several apartments. The entrance to this
cloister, or gallery, is in the centre of the row, and a
passage runs straight from it through the building itself to
a well and large kitchen garden in the rear. Each tene-
ment had a second door at the back, now walled up,
communicating with the garden. In the wall between the
window and the front door of one of the tenements is a
curious recess, apparently original, the use of which is
doubtful. The easternmost house is terminated by a high
gable, much patched, as are all parts of the structure, with
modern work, and a projecting chimney, whose ancient
oflfsets yet remain. The western gable, which abuts on
Mill Lane, is without a chimney, but preserves more of its
original character than the other portions of the building,
and has still a finial, coping, and plinth course of the
sixteenth century. Most of the woodwork of the doorways
and floors is of the same period. Before and at right
angles to the western tenement, but not in actual contact
with it, is a modern house, which, as I believe, occupies
the site of a chapel that formed a part of the original
establishment. In the front wall of the eastern house,
facing a slip of carefully tended garden, gorgeous with fair
colours and redolent of sweet perfumes, which lies between
the edifice and the highroad, a very beautiful work of art
is inserted, which is the principal object of the traveller's
notice. It is a block of stone, two feet four inches in
height and one foot seven inches in breadth, on which is
boldly yet most delicately sculptured a shield bearing the
interlaced letters R.B., and surmounted by a mitre which,
and the strings that hang from it, are represented as richly


ornamented with jewels and embroidery. It is clear from
. these indications that Holy Church has here exercised Her
sacred power for good, and that in this quaint old roadside
Almshouse we have before us the remains of one of those
establishments where the Divine precept was obeyed to
the letter — to minister to the sick and to befriend the poor.

The building, which is still called "The Spital," was
part of a Hospital for lepers, dedicated, as were many
similiar institutions, to S. Margaret, and founded at a time
when victims of that terrible disease were far from un-
common. And the shield, with its monogram and fair
surroundings, tells us of an endeavour by a princely
Churchman long ages afterwards to perpetuate a blessing
to which, if not a sudden catastrophe, at least the lapse
of many generations had bequeathed its customary legacy
of decay.

I will endeavour to furnish my reader with such an
account of the old building and its fortunes as a long and
careful search into multitudinous Records has enabled me
to give him. It is only, I must admit, at rare intervals,
among vast masses of manuscript documents of all de-
scriptions, that a grain of information is to be acquired —
all the more precious, however, from the obscurity in
which it has been hitherto buried, and the labour involved
in its exhumation. My reader must accordingly expect no
more than this — for fragmentary the particulars which I
can offer him must necessarily and unavoidably be. Indeed
we may congratulate ourselves that the search has resulted
in the discovery of so much which would have ajipeared to
be lost to us for ever.

The history of the place, indeed, had all but passed into
oblivion. A few lines are the most which are devoted to it
either by general or by local historians, and even the sketch


which they furnish is unhappily made to give an erroneous
notion of the most important fact in their account, the
period of the foundation of the House. Tanner, ColHnson,
Touhuin, and the late editors of Dugdale, all the latter
copying, as usual, from the first-named writer, unite in
the assertion that the Hospital was " built by Thomas
Lambrit,* about the year 1270,'^t and that "the advowson
and patronage was granted about the year 1280 to the
Abbot and Convent of Glastonbury" by the same Thomas
Lambrizt.J Collinson says that it was "founded by one
Lambrizt, or Lambright, a merchant of Taunton, in the
time of Henry IH.," and loosely and indefinitely adds that
it is mentioned before 1269, which is three years anterior
to the end of that King's reign. || Mr. Savage, referring,
however, to Tanner for " the only notice that we possess of
the place," evidently copies the last-named writer when he
tells us that it was founded in the reign of Henry III.,
before the year 1269, by Thomas Lambright, whose suc-
cessors about 1280 annexed the advowson thereof to the
Abbey of Glastonbury. He adds that " Tradition assigns
the foundation of this house to the time when St. Mary
Magdalene's Church was built in Taunton." §

The authority on which all these writers depended for
their imaginary fact was a MS. referred to by Bp. Tanner as
"Cart. Glaston. MS. Macro, f. 119 6." Most unhappily
its whereabouts is at present and has for a long time past
been unknown. It is said to have been rescued from

* Through the whole of this Memoir I give the names of Persons and
Places in the orthography of the authority from which the information
is derived.

f Collinson, Hist, of Somerset, III. 456.

i Tanner, Not. Somers. XI. 2. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. VI. 774.

II Hist, of Somerset, III. 236.

§ Savage, History of Taunton, pp. 98, 99.


destruction by Bp. Tanner in a grocer's shop at Oxford in
the year 1692, and to have passed into the hands of Dr.
Cox Macro, of Norton, near Bury S. Edmunds, who died
in 1767, and whose library has long since been dispersed.
Where it is now, although it has oftentimes and by many
enquirers been studiously sought for, I am unable to say.
After I know not how many investigations pursued in
various quarters, I think I have a clue to its recovery,
but the MS. has been so long out of sight that I am by
no means sanguine of success.

The truth, however, is — and this may tend to mitigate
our regret at the absence of an authority of whose infor-
mation on other points we might possibly have been
rejoiced to avail ourselves — that the Hospital of S. Mar-
garet was founded upwards of at the very least eighty-
four years before the earliest of the dates which have been
hitherto before us. It does not occur among the Chapels
with which William Gyffard, Bp. of Winchester, enriched
his infant Priory of Taunton about the year 1110. But
I can prove its existence at little more than half a century
subsequent to that date. I have found in two of the great
Wells Registers a Charter of Stephen, Prior of Taunton,
and his Canons in which they concede to Reginald, Bishop
of Bath, among other matters, that all their Churches and
Chapels shall make returns to him and his successors and
their officials in all episcopal customs after the manner of
the other churches in the diocese of Bath, except the
chapels of S. James, S. George of the Well (Wilton),
S. Margaret of the Sick, and S. Peter of the Castle, which
the aforesaid Bishop had permitted to be exempt.* In the
" Capella S. Margarete Infirmorum^' we have doubtless

* Eeg. Well. I. ff. 35 b., ,36. Eeg. III. f. 342. Appendix, No. I.


the House whose history I am endeavouring to elucidate.
Among the witnesses to this agreement are William Abbot
of Keynesham, Geoffrey, Thomas, Ralph, and Richard,
Archdeacons respectively of Salisbury, Wells, Bath, and
Coutances, and W^alter Prior of Berlich. It is from
these principal and attesting parties, for the instrument is
un-dated, that we may obtain a very close approximation
to the period at which this charter was made. Stephen
was Prior of Taunton, as appears from various documents,
from and perhaps before 1159 to and perhaps after 1189,
Reginald was Bishop of Bath from 1174 to 1191. William
was Abbot of Keynsham in 1175, and Walter was Prior
of Berlich in the same year. Geoffrey was Archdeacon
of Sarum in Oct. 1173, and his successor occurs in 1188.
Thomas was Archdeacon of Wells in 1 1 75, and his suc-
cessor in 1185. Of Ralph and Richard I know nothing
but what is here asserted. A moment^s comparison of
these various intervals will reduce us to a period between
at the latest the years 1174 and 1185 for the date of the
charter. This, it will be seen, does not give us the actual
date of the foundation of the Hospital, but simply a proof
of the fact of its existence at a period of at the very
least eighty-four years before the date to which its foun-
dation has hitherto been attributed. How much earlier
than that time it came into being we have no present
means of determining.

It would also appear from this charter that, although the
Abbot and Convent of Glastonbury were the patrons of
the parish Church of West Monkton, the Chapel of S.
Margaret was in the patronage of the Priory of Taunton.
And, further, that it was so poor as to be exempt from
Episcopal customs — a fact which will presently have abun-
dant corroboration.



In further proof of the more ancient date, I have been
so fortunate as to find on the Patent Roll of the 20th year
of Henry III. the grant of a Protection from the King to
the Master and Brethren of the Leper Hospital of S. Mar-
garet of Taunton, dated, witness the King, at Middelton,
the 22nd of June, 1236 * The Protection is described
as having the clause Rogamus, and was accordingly of the
kind which was usually granted to collectors of alms for
the poor of a Hospital, or in behalf of any other works of
mercy, piety, and charity ; and commanded the King's
subjects to maintain, protect, and defend such collectors,
and neither to bring on them nor to permit to be brought
on them by others any injury, trouble, damage, violence,
hindrance, or grievance.! I am afraid that all this is proof
positive of the low estate of the Hospital, and that, if
the absence of endowments be an ingredient of strength,
it was at least in possession of this attribute in a very
considerable degree. The institution, it is clear, was
struggling for life, and its needs may not improbably have
attracted the good offices of the worthy to whom has been
attributed the honour of the foundation.

For the claim of Thomas Lambrit, how little soever he
may be allowed to be the founder, to the honour of a
benefactor of the Hospital is not to be disputed. What
has been already advanced is only intended to correct an
error in the date of the foundation, and not to interfere
with the attribution of a part of the good work to him to
whom the whole of it has hitherto been assigned. The
name of Thomas Lambrit is not unfrequently found in the
records of the time. In the "Hundred Kolls,'' which
contain inquisitions taken in the second year of Edward I.,

* Pat. 20 Hen. HI. m. 6. Appendix, No. II.
+ See Fitzherbert, Nat. Brev. Ed. 1794. I. 29.


he is mentioned in union witli the Abbot of Glastonbury,
who, with his Convent, as I have already said, were
the patrons of the parish Church of West Monkton,
Henry de Wykesande, John de Reyni, and Adam de Cari,
as possessed by ancient usage of right to take and hold
the cattle of estrays found in their tenements in the Manor
of Monketon.* In the Bodleian Library there are several
agreements between the Abbots of Glastonbury and the
Lambrights in connexion with lands in the Manor of
Monkton ; as of Thomas Lambright with land called
Wadelesham in 1250, with common of pasture at To-
brugge in 1281, and with the mill of Crich about the same
periodjt but no mention is made in them either of S.
Margaret^s Chapel or Hospital. In this manor the same
Thomas Lambrit was the master also of a Chapel, which
may well be believed to be that on whose history we are
now employed. For in a List of Charters concerning
divers rents and gifts to the Church of Glastonbury, be-
longing to that Church in the time of Abbot John of
Taunton, who ruled the Abbey from 1274 to 1290, there
is a " Cautio,'^ sans date, of T. Lambrit respecting his
Chapel in the manor of Muncketone.J

Added to this, and conclusive of the fact that he was a
benefactor, there are accounts of various legal proceedings
in the years 1279 and 1280 which distinctly prove that
property had passed from Thomas Lambrith to the use and
benefit of the Hospital, In the assizes before the Justices
Itinerant, held at Montacute on the morrow of the Assump-
tion of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the 7th year of Edward
I., or the 16th August, 1279, examination was made as to
whether John, Abbot of Glastonbury, and Henry, Master

* Rot. Hundred. II. 137. + MS. Wood, 1. p. 280.

t Joh. Glaston. Hist. Ed. Hearne, p. 392. E Cod. Cantab, f. 81 b.


of the House of S. Margaret outside Taunton, had un-
justly disseised Thomas Larabrich of his free tenement in
Moneketon, and of two shillings of rent, with appur-
tenances, issuing from a certain tenement in the same vill.
The jurors returned a verdict on oath that the aforesaid
Abbot had not disseised the aforesaid Thomas of the afore-
said rent ; and therefore it was ordered that the Abbot
should retire from the action sine die, while the plaintiff
was judged to be in misericordia for his false claim. In
behalf of the Master the jurors returned a verdict that
the assize between him and the plaintiff ought not to pro-
ceed, inasmuch as the said Thomas was a suitor against
him before the King's Justices in Banco by a certain writ
touching customs and services, in which the rent aforesaid
was contained. A further hearing was ordered at Ivel-
chester on the feast of S. Edmund, King and Martyr, the
20th of November, during the interval before which the
rolls might be examined for proof of his declaration.*

This must not be considered a matter of litigation, but
an amicable suit which was the common practice of the
courts at that period in order to substantiate a right of
possession. The opposition of the plaintiff was a legal
fiction, and the verdict of the jury and sentence of the
court on a difference which had no existence in fact had
the effect of creating a legal title of the most public and
notorious kind. As in the Final Concords, ordinarily
called Fines, it was seen that no title could be so indubi-
table as one which had been the subject of legal enquiry,
contested by one party and secured to the other by the
ratification of a sentence of a court of law. A suit was

* Plac. de Jur. et Assis. 7 Edw. I. 2 > 2. rot. 17. Appendix, No. III.


accordingly commenced, and, on the hearing of the case in
court, a composition of the suit was entered into and
judgment given for one of the parties, which was thus ac-
knowledged as the legal owner of the land in question.
The transaction was reduced to writing, and this perpetual
memorial was preserved henceforth among the other re-
cords of the realm,*

Of like nature, I presume, was an action which I have
found reported on the Roll of an Assize before the Justices
Itinerant at Somerton on the morrow of the Ascension,
in the 8th year of Edward I., the 31st of Ma}-, 1280.
The Master of the House of lepers of S. Margaret outside
Taunton was summoned to respond to Thomas de Lam-
brigg (in a duplicate rollf he is called Lambrich, which
together with the one just given are evidently but forms of
the name already familiar to us) in respect of the plea that
he should do him customs and services due from a free
tenement which he held of him in Munketon, as in rents,
arrears, &c. The service was of two shillings a year. By
the unjust detention of this service by the aforesaid Master
for three years past, the plaintiflF averred that he was in-
jured to the value of twenty (in the other roll it is forty)
shillings. The Master appeared to the summons, and
showed that he did not hold the aforesaid messuage from
the aforesaid Thomas. Sentence was given for him ac-
cordingly. J

* See Preface to Pedes Finium, vol. I.
t Plac. de Jur. et Assis. 8 Edw. I. 5^4. rot. 30.

; Plac. de Jur. et Assis. 8 Edw. I. 5 > 3. rot. 18 dors. Appendix, No. IV.


5 [■ 1. r. 29 dors.


A similar case occurred at the same Assizes. Joan de
Reygny preferred a claim against the Master of the Hospital
in regard of two acres of meadow with appurtenances in
Hanerich (or Hanecrich in the duplicate rollj, into which
the said Master had no entry except through Cecily la
Brune (or Brutte), to whom William de Bikebury, father
of the aforesdid Joan and whose heiress she is, demised
them to the term now past. The ISIaster defended his
right, and alleged that he had not entered into the said
land through the aforesaid Cecily, inasmuch as he found
his Church seised of the same on the day whereon he was
made Master. As Joan could not disprove this statement,
the Master obtained judgment in his favour, and a secure
title to the aforesaid land.*

It may be supposed that in these transactions we have a
tolerably perfect series of the titles on which the House
relied for the security of its little property. No doubt it
also depended for aid in a considerable degree on the great
Monastery with which it was connected, and on the vast
revenues of which it could have been at the utmost but a
trifling burden.

From the time at which we have arrived in its humble
annals, it appears to have quietly done its work of mercy
to the sufferers in whose behalf it was founded. Nothing,
so far as I am aware, occurred for many ages to force it
into the notoriety which would have been the certain effect
of any marked accession of either good or evil fortune.
The very progress of time, however, unchequered though
it might be by circumstances of outward importance.

M-) M-

* Plac. de Jur. et Assis. 8 Edw. I. 5 [^3. r. 16. 5 J-4. r. 85.

13J 13.

M-) M-)

5^1. r. 89. 5M. r. 23dors.
14) 14)


brought at least one and that a necessary result in its
train. The buildings needed repair, and renovations of all
kinds were imperatively demanded after a long period of
constant use. These were attempted to be supplied by a
means to which those ages afforded abundance of charitable
parallels. The immediate neighbourhood might have been
unequal to all that was required, and recourse was had to
the favourite mode which should bring the claims of a
deserving charity before the kindly notice of a larger circle
of friends and helpers. Accordingly, on the 10th of
November, 1418, Bishop Bubwith granted at Banewell an
Indulgence of thirty days to all who in a state of grace
should contribute of their means to the Hospital of lepers
by Tanton. The Indulgence was to last during pleasure*
Of the result of this appeal we have no further means
of judging than that it was upwards of fifty years before
a similar mode of acquiring aid was put in practice. On
the 2nd July, 1472, Bishop Stillington followed the ex-
ample of his predecessor, and issued a Letter of Indulgence
on behalf of the Hospital. He commences his missive
with the usual benediction — health in Him through Whom
is obtained forgiveness of sins — and proceeds to say that
he is of opinion that men of his order exhibit pious obe-
dience and what is well pleasing to God as often as they
earnestly strive to incite the minds of the faithful to works
of charity or other devotion by the persuasives of indul-
gencies. Relying, therefore, on the boundless mercy of
Almighty God, and of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary His
Mother, and on the merits and prayers of S. Andrew, SS.
Peter and Paul, his patrons, and of all Saints, he grants to
all Christians wheresoever throughout his diocese, and others

* Reg. Bubw. f. clj. b.


whose diocesans shall allow his indulgence to be in force
and accepted, being truly penitent, contrite, and confessed,
who to the relief of the poor, infirm, and leprous people of
the Hospital and Chapel of S. Margaret, Virgin and
Martyr, situate and standing at the eastern part of the town
of Taunton, and to the restoration, repair, and support of
the said Hospital, shall extend helping hands, and make
grateful contributions of the goods given them of God,
or leave legacies, or in any way convey charitable aid,
forty days of indulgence, as often as they shall perform
the aforesaid acts or any one of them. The letter was to
last for five years from the date of the presents. It had
the Bishop's seal appended, and was issued from his Inn
outside New Temple Bar, in London, on the day above-
mentioned.* The Bishop of Winchester, William Wayne-
flete, was pleased to follow his brother of Bath and Wells
in his endeavour to benefit the Hospital, and granted from
Suthwerke, on the 8th of the same month, a similar letter
of indulgence of forty days for the works of charity above
specified, and to last for the same period. t

We now arrive at a very important period in the history
of the Hospital. There is an old legend that the edifice
was burnt down in the early part of the reign of Henry
VIII., and that it was rebuilt by an Abbot of Glaston-
bury. I hardly need add that the beautiful sculpture to
which I referred at the commencement of my memoir very
strongly confirms the accuracy of this tradition. The
letters on the shield, which is identified by its surmounting
mitre with an ecclesiastic of high rank, are the initials of
the great Abbot of Glastonbury under whose superinten-
dence the rebuilding was effected. Richard Beere was

* Reg. Still, f. Ixxxj. b. Appendix, No. V.
t Reg. Wayneflete, torn. ij. f. 152.


confirmed Abbot on the 12th November, 1493, and died
on the 20th of January, 1524. In the 22nd year of
Henry VII. he was sent ambassador to Rome, and on his
return, as indeed before his departure, lie was employed in
making great additions to his Abbey Church and Conven-
tual buildings. Close to the Abbey he built an Almshouse,
with a Chapel, for seven or ten poor women,* and rebuilt
considerable por^^ions of the Church of S. Benedict in the
same town. A memorial of his labours in the last-named
place exists in a sculptured stone of a precisely similar
character to that before us. A shield, surmounted by a
mitre and bearing the same initials, records the work of
the same beneficent hand. From a comparison of these
facts there will be little difficulty in our attribution of
the re-erection of the House to its proper date. Remem-
bering that Henry VIII. succeeded his father on the 22nd
of April, 1509, and bearing in mind the tradition to which
I have referred, we shall not be wrong in assigning the
rebuilding of S. Margaret^s Hospital by Abbot Richard
Beere to one of the five years between 1510 and 1515,

Apart from its artistic beauty, and it is unmistakeably
as well as superlatively great, it is worth while to direct
attention to the monogram itself It has been engraved

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