~ ST. LAWRENCE'S HOSPITAL (St. Laurence Hospital) ~




Part of the perimeter wall directly adjacent to the Old Dover Road 1907

photo courtesy of Paul Crampton www.paulcramptonbooks.co.uk/


In the Old Dover Road are the remains of St. Lawrence House, or hospital, built in the reign of Stephen, by one of the abbots of St. Augustine's Monastery; it was abolished in the time of Mary, - on the pier of an old gateway is a half obliterated representation of St. Lawrence on a gridiron, attended by two men. 1838 directory


The hospital was founded by Hugh the Abbot of St. Augustine's in 1137, and he granted it 21 acres of land in Canterbury, as well as land in Chislet and in Sturry, it also had one mill.


Hamo, Lord Marourd, Blen, Lavington, Estrusted, Biersted, now called Brasted, Nettlested, Ditton, and other lands in the county of Kent was sheriff of that county at the time of the general survey, made by order of William the Conqueror, and entered in Doomsday-book, which is still preserved in the Exchequer. He continued sheriff to the middle of the reign of King Henry I. for in the year 1111, Hugh, Abbot of St. Augustine's, granted Bodesham and Smetheham to Hamo, and at the same time Hamo made a grant of other lands, in the town of Fordwich to the said Abbey. The records of Christ Church, Canterbury, and the deeds of the hospital of St. Laurence, prove, that one of the name of Hamo held the lands above-mentioned in the reigns of King Richard II. and King John.


(March 21, 1520) *from the will of Dame Elizabeth THURSTON of London, widow, late wife of Sir John Thurston, knight, citizen and alderman of London, deceased (formerly wife of Thomas Wymond). ....To Dame Amy my daughter, priores of St. Laurence in Canterbury, xlli. To buy lands for their sisterhood xxli. To the said Dame Amy a fetherbed, etc., brass and pewter set aside for her in a baskett, also a blak gowne furred with mynks, and a kirtell of chamlett, my bed in the chapel chamber with sparn of silke, etc.


The site was granted to Sir John Parrott in fee on May 26, 1557.


"The sisters said that Christopher Hales had a lease of their land"


"On the right hand of the way from Canterbury to Dover, in the south-east suburb, Hugh the second of that name, Abbot of St. Augustine's, built to the honour of St. Laurence, A.D. 1137, an hospital for the relief of leprous Monks, or the poor parents or relations of the Monks of that abbey. It consisted of a Warden or Keeper, a Priest or Chaplain, one Clerk, and sixteen brethren and sisters; and the chief or senior of these sisters was called the Prioress. Its revenues, in the 26th of Henry VIII, were valued at 39l. 8s. 6d. King Edward VI. gave it to one Tipsal, and Queen Mary granted it to Sir John Parrot." The Universal Magazine 1751


St. Laurence, in the Parish of St. Paul, in the road to Dover, is the ancient Seat of the Rooke's Family. It is a good convenient house, kept in good repair, and the furniture is adequate to the occasional residence of hte noble Lord, its owner, who has made it a neat and agreeable abode. There is on the stair-case a good picture of Sir George Rooke, full length, represented before Gibraltar, which important acquisition Great Britain owes to this experienced Admiral's skill and judgment in maritme affairs. He conveyed over to Spain the Archduke, afterwards Charles VI. Emperor of Germany who, among other marks of his princely regard for the Admiral, gave him, as a particular token of his affection, his own bed of crimson velvet, ornamented above in the form of a cupola, with three pair of sheets, and the chairs of the same rich stuff. This is the furniture of the best bed-chamber. There is in a drawing room several other family pictures, but none of the great Masters of the Art.

The situation of this house, on a high ground, among hop plantations, is pleasant and healthy.

Mrs. Rooke bequeathed this estate to the Right Hon. John Ward, Viscount Dudley and Ward, whose noble son, the present possessor, reflects, by his own merit, an additional lustre on his hereditary titles and honours. 1776


"East of St. Sepulchre, on the road to Dover, is St. Laurence*, mentioned by Somner as in the suburbs of Canterbury, but not connected to it by buildings, nor within the plan. On one of the flinty piers of the old gate, a figure of St. Laurence on the gridiron may be discovered, with a man standing at his head, and another at his feet. This was also an hospital for lepers, founded by Hugh, the second Abbot of St. Augustine's of that name, in 1137, that if any professed monk of that monastery should be infected with any contagious disease, but above all the leprosy, so that he could not, without prejudice or scandal, stay within its precincts, he should be as well provided for here, as those who lived in the monastery. The governor of this (called Custos Hospitalis) was always one of the monks of St. Augustine's Abbey.

A walk in and about the city of Canterbury with many....2nd edition, 1777


*Formerly the seat of the family of Rooke and of Lord Viscount Dudley and Ward. It was afterwards possessed by Mrs. Graham, widow of the late Colonel John Graham, and, at her decease was sold by the executors to Milles, Esq. of Nackington, who a few years since had it pulled down. The ground on which it stood was sown with grass seed, and turned into a meadow. William Gostling 1825


As in the hospital of St. Laurence, Canterbury, which contained lepers of both sexes. See Strype's Life of Archbishop Parker, 1791, Vol. i. p. 224


St. Lawrence House, formerly stood on the south side of the Watling Street, and occupied the site of an hospital, founded in 1137 for leprous or contagiously diseased inmates of St. Augustine's Abbey. Sir George Rooke, the celebrated admiral, who derived the estate from Sir William, his father, gave it the name of "The Rook's Nest" and spent the latter part of his life here. The estate has lately been purchased by Richard Milles, Esq. who has taken down the house, and added the adjoining lands to those in his own occupation.

Excursions in the county of Kent by Thomas Kitson Cromwell


About a quarter of a mile south eastward from this, on the south side of the Watling Street, is St. Lawrence House, formerly the site of an Hospital, founded by the Abbots and Monks of St. Augustine in the year 1137, for a Priest, or Chaplain, a Clerk, and sixteen Brethren and Sisters. It was intended for the reception of such of the inmates of the Abbey, as should become leprous, or contagiously diseased, &c. and it continued subordinate to that house till the Dissolution. Sir William Rooke, who became possessed of this estate about the time of Charles the Second, was father to the gallant Admiral, Sir George Rooke, who retired here in the latter years of his life, and gave it the fanciful appellation of "The Rook's Nest". Its present possessor is Mrs. Graham.

The Beauties of England and Wales 1808


"Yearly revenue, estimated at 31l. 10s. 7d. at the reformation, now worth 630l. 11s. 8d.; granted to Sir John Parrot, at the time of the Reformation."

A geographical dictionary of England and Wales, William Cobbett 1832


"To the right of the city, on the road to Dover, was an hospital dedicated to St. Lawrence, for leprous monks, founded by Hugh, abbot of St. Augustine's, in 1137, and endowed for a warden, chaplain, clerk, and sixteen brothers and sisters, of whom the senior sister was prioress; the revenue, at the Dissolution, was £39. 8. 6."



"Near the south-west corner of thee ruins, is the old Dover road, from Ridingate, on the Watling Street way, on the south side of which, about a quarter of a mile further on, lately stood St. Lawrence House, which was formerly an Hospital dedicated to that saint, being founded by one of the Abbots of St. Augustine, in King Stephen's reign, for such of his monastery as should be afflicted with any contagious distemper. On a large old pier, built on flint, belonging to a gateway leading from the road, is carved a figure of St. Lawrence on a gridiron, with one man standing at his head and another at his feet.

Canterbury Guide, Henry Ward 1843


"....and of hospitals; those of St. James, St. Laurence for sick monks, St. Nicholas, St. Thomas, and St. Mary's without the walls."

Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey 1852


St. Laurence's Hospital, founded, south east of the town, in the year 1137, by Hugh the Abbot of St. Augustine's; yearly revenues 31l. 10s. 7d., now worth 630l. 11s. 8d.; granted to Sir John Parrot.

The protestant "reformation" - 1853 *there was a Sir John Parrot, illegitimate son of Henry VII, also a Sir John Parrot that died in the Tower of London


"The Hospital of St. Lawrence, situate east of the Nunnery of St. Sepulchre's, was founded A.D. 1137. It was the asylum for the sick brothers of Saint Augustine, and their distressed relatives. There is still a part of the wall, with a sculpture representing St. Lawrence on a gridiron. (This stone was evidently sculptured in high relief, but has been shamefully mutilated, even of late years, being a favourite mark for emulative youth to fling stones at.)

Felix Summerly


"The Hospital of St. Laurence is situated by the Old Dover Road. It was founded, according to Tanner, A.D. 1137, as a hospital for leprous monks, and the poor parents and relatives of the monks of St. Augustine. But a small portion of the old buildings remain, and on the wall abutting on teh road there is to be seen what is said to be a representation of St. Laurence on the gridiron. Certainly, a prostrate figure is discernible, with one or two other figures beside it in an erect position.

It has been stated nevertheless that the original patron of this house was not the martyred saint, but Laurentius, the second Archbishop of Canterbury. It was alienated in the time of Edward VI. to a person named Topsal, but Queen Mary bestowed it upon Sir John Perrot."

John Brent


"On the right hand of the Dover Road, in the south-east suburb, not far from the nunnery of St. Sepulchre, stood the old Hospital of St. Laurence, of which there are now no remains save in the walls of cottages adjacent to the site. The name lingers on in the title of Canterbury's famed cricket ground."

Canterbury; A History of the Ancient City, J. Charles Cox 1905


"Lawrence House stood a little further on; a large stone, with the figure of St. Lawrence and his gridiron, is the only relic of it." 1913

*I took chambers in the Temple in the spring of 1783, which I held till Christmas, 1785; spending the summers of 1782, 1783 and 1784, at my mother's house at St. Lawrence, near Canterbury, which had been the seat of Admiral Sir George Rooke, and which she hired of Lord Dudley. The summer of 1781 was an uncomfortable one, it was spent in the heat of a house in the main street of Canterbury. To this house my mother had retired on my father's death in November 1780. It had been devised to my father in 1778, by Mrs. Sympson, widow of John Sympson, Esq., a man of large fortune, whose mother was heiress of John Roberts, eldest son of Sir John Roberts of Bekesborne, who had several other children, and whose daughter Martha was my great-grandmother, by her husband Edward Gibbon. This Martha died about 1677. The Sympsons had been prebendaries of Canterbury for some generations. Another daughter of Sir John Roberts married Thomas Tolson, of Bekesborne, to whose family Bishop Kennet was, in his youth, tutor. The Tolsons were an ancient Cumberland family.* Mary Roberts** another daughter, married the last John Coppin of Wootton, who died 1701. The Autobigraphy, times, opinions, and contemporaries of Sir Egerton Brydges, Bart. 1834

*See the pedigree of the Tolsons entered in the Herald's College by the present Major Tolson

** See the monuments in St. Alphage Church, Canterbury for the Robert's

The Register and Chartulary of the Hospital of St. Laurence, Canterbury. By the Rev. C. Eveleigh Woodruff (Archaeologia Cantiana, 1939)

15th Century - volume relating to foundations and statutes held by Canterbury Cathedral Archives *In the cathedral library of Canterbury, among the MSS is the following, marked C. 20, "Fundatio et Statuta Hospit. St. Laurentii juxta Cantuariam, et Registrum chartarum de terris ejusdem." Mr. Todd's Catalogue, p. 285

14th Century register - held by Oxford University

early 15th Century register - held by Cambridge University Library



© T. Machado 2007