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History of Sandwich Kent: Ancient Hospitals

The Ancient Hospitals of Sandwich

St. Bart's Chapel

St. Bart's Chapel

St. Thomas's Hospital

St. Thomas's Hospital

Two ancient Hospitals - in modern terms, almshouses - have been providing homes for elderly residents of Sandwich for many hundreds of years.

St. Barts Hospital is one of the oldest established hostels for travellers and pilgrims, dating back possibly, to 1190.

St. Thomas's Hospital was built in the 14th century and named in honour of St. Thomas Becket.

St. Bart's was founded in 1190, for the "accommodation of pilgrims and travellers where they might be furnished with lodgings, provisions and other necessaries for their journey" on the site which it still occupies in Dover Road on the outskirts of the town, but it fairly soon became a Hospital providing a permanent home to sixteen brothers or sisters.

To begin with, the brethren lived in common, though they had separate rooms; now of course they have individual houses.

The Hospital chapel, built in 1217 as part of the original foundation, is still used for its original purpose by today's hospitalians.

St. Thomas' Hospital dates from 1392 and always offered permanent homes to twelve brothers or sisters.

Originally on a site just off the Cattle Market, the Hospital was rebuilt on its present site in 1878.

There was also a third hospital, St. John's, which was in existence by 1287: like St. Bart's, it was originally meant to succour travellers, but soon became an alsmhouse. Always poorly endowed, the rebuilt terrace of cottages was sold in 1969, and the proceeds added to the joint estate of St. Bart's and St. Thomas'. Today both Hospitals are cared for by a voluntary Board of Trustees.