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The Hospital of St. Thomas

The hospital of St. Thomas the Martyr of Eastbridge, is situated on the King's-bridge, in the hundred of Westgate, in the city of Cabterbury and was built by Thomas Becket. However, after the assassination of its founder, the resort of individuals being constant to his shrine, the building was used for the lodgment of the pilgrims. For many years, no especial statutes were enacted, nor any definite rules laid down for the treatment of pilgrims, till the see devolved to the jurisdiction of Stratford, who, in 15th year of Edward III's reign, drew up certain ordinances, as also a code of regulations expressly to be acted on; he appointed a master in priest's orders, under whose guidance a secular chaplain officiated; it was also observed that every pilgrim in health should have but one night's lodging to the cost of fourpence; that applicants weak and infirm were to be preferred to those of sounder constitutions, and that women "upwards of forty" should attend to the bedding, and administer medicines to the sick.

Hospital of St. Thomas Canterbury

This institution survived the general suppression of monasteries and buildings of its cast, during the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI; and after alternately grading from the possession of private families to that of brothers belonging to the establishment, it was at last finally appropriated to the instruction of the rising generation, whose parents are exempt from giving any gratuity to the preceptor of their children.

Its present appearance is ancient, but not possessing any of those magic features which render the mansions of our majores so grand and magnificently solemn; a hall and chapel of imposing neatness and simplicity are still in good condition, but several of the apartments are dilapidated in part, and during a wet season admit the aqueous fluid through the chinks and fissures of their venerable walls.

This article is probably based on text from Edward Hasted's survey of Kent c. 1800. Article and image reprinted from Wikipedia.org.

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Canterbury: Still the Perfect Pilgrimage!, by Julia Hickey


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