St Leonard’s Hospital

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April, 2015

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The remains of St Leonard’s Hospital are on the east side of the “Museum Gardens”:

The building was funded by John Romanus who died in 1255 and was built on the site of an earlier hospital of St Peter which was destroyed by fire in 1137. At the time it was the largest hospital in Northern England, owning extensive lands and run by a community of men and women of the Augustinian Order. During the C14th it could have held as many as 240 patients with 18 clergy plus 30 choristers.

As well as caring for the ill and infirm of York, it also distributed food to the poor as well as prisoners in York Castle. As the sick could not be treated for a physical illness until they had confessed their sins, prayers were a regular routine of the hospital. The large windows were designed to allow fresh air to circulate as there was the belief that disease was caused by ‘bad air’.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, St Leonard’s was left destroyed, leaving York without a hospital until 1740.

Today all that is left is the entrance lobby, undercroft and part of the chapel.

The vaulted entrance lobby by the main entrance off Museum Street now contains information boards about the Museum Gardens and associated buildings. It leads to the entrance to the undercroft and chapel.

The vaulted undercroft is supported by octagonal pillars and is the best preserved part of St Leonards. Unfortunately it is now rather a scruffy area with litter blown in.

There is little left of the chapel which which extended above the undercroft. The best view is from the entrance to the gardens by the Central Library.

The Museum Gardens are open daily and admission is free.

There are better pictures “here.”:


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