Royston. St John and St James
Information about this establishment is shrouded in the mists of time and it may well be that it was not an almshouse (for long-term residence).
Founded in around 1227 by Richard Argentein, the Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, its purpose was to act as a leper hospital, probably for monks and nuns, and to provide relief for poor travellers. It may be that poor lepers were admitted at a later date. Victoria County History vol 4 notes, ‘Possibly it was a hospital not only for the sick but for poor wayfarers: in 1389 it is mentioned as the house of alms and the Chantry Returns ……. report that it was founded for the relief of poor people coming and going through the town of Royston’. This could be taken to mean transient relief rather than something on a long-term basis.
Walter de Gray, Archbishop of York, granted an indulgence of thirteen days to all who contributed to the support of the sick brothers and sisters coming to the hospital of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. James of Royston. This highlights its function as a place for the sick. There is a reference to a house of alms in Lond. Epis. Reg. Braybrook, fol. 398 d.
By 1486 it was a free chapel. The chapel of St John and St James was suppressed in 1547.
There is a plaque on the wall of ‘The Jolly Postie’ public house in Royston marking the site of the hospital.
The Jolly Postie public house, formerly the Post office, was built on the site of the old leper hospital. Dead Lane (possibly due to the number of deaths in plague times) was renamed Back Street, and is now King Street.
Address: 2 Baldock Street, Royston, SG8 5AY
Grid ref: 52o 02′ 54″N 0o 01′ 29″W
Georeference: 535572 240690
A History of Royston Hertfordshire, by Alfred Kingston
Pages 47 – 49
Pub London, Elliot Stock; Royston Warren Bros 1906
The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford ed. William Page
Vol 3 p255
Issued Archibald Constable & Co 1914. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0478 6)
Available online at https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp253-265 and https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol4/462-464