Saturday, 2 July 2016
Warwick - Part 2: Lord Leycester's Hospital and Master's Garden
I am so glad we decided to visit Lord Leycester's hospital as it is a real gem - steeped in history and full of interest at every corner. The Chapel of St James the Great was built over the old West Gate into Warwick in 1123 by Roger de Newburgh (2nd of the Norman Earls of Warwick) as a Chantry Chapel. The Chapel fell into disrepair and was rebuilt in 1383 by Thomas Beauchamp (the 12th Earl). King Richard II gifted it to the Guild of of St George who were joined by 2 other local Guilds. During the 15th century the Guilds (who carried out charitable work) flourished building a Guild Hall to conduct their business, A Great Hall for banquets and a house for the Master of the Guild and accommodation for the Chapel's priests.
In 1546 the Guilds were dissolved by King Henry VIII and the buildings were passed to the Burgesses of Warwick who used them for meetings and Warwick School was based here for a while. In 1571 the buildings were bought by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to be used as a home for retired ex Servicemen who had been disabled in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. The hospital has been used for the same purpose ever since. The building has never been used for medical purposes - the word "hospital" is used in its old sense meaning a charitable institution for the housing of the needy, inform or aged. Today's brethren and their wives contribute to ensure that his ancient historical building is enjoyed by visitors.
For fans of Doctor Who - his tardis once landed in this courtyard - the buildings have been used by film companies for several tv series.
I rather liked this painting hanging in the Great Hall loo!
The Great Hall dates from the 14th century and the beamed roof is made from Spanish Chestnut. In 1617 it was used to entertain King James I on his visit to Warwick - the town was in debt for the next 10 years!! Today it is used for public functions.
Views of surrounding streets from the balcony that surrounds the chapel.
JRR Tolkien was married in the church you might be able to make out in the centre of this photo.
Chapel of St James the Great - only the walls and foundations survive from the 1383 building. The Chapel was extensively restored in 1860 by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
The wooden carvings (for example, the Bear and Ragged Staff and the Two-tailed Lion from the Dudley Coat of Arms) were carved by woodworkers from Warwick.
The East windows are by Clayton and Bell from Birmingham. Somehow I managed to miss the William Morris window :(
The Brethren today still worship in this Chapel using the words set out by Robert Dudley over 430 years ago.
The East and South side have remained more or less untouched since the 15th century and are a superb example of medieval domestic timber-framed architecture. The Bear with the Ragged Staff and the twin-tailed Green Lion can be seen again. The blue porcupine is the crest of the Sidney family. When Robert Dudley died in 1588 he had no legitimate heir so he left his property to his nephew, Sir Philip Sidney - the famous soldier poet from Kent.
We had lunch in the historic Brethren's kitchen where food was once prepared for the Chaplains of the Guilds and for functions in the Great Hall.
A fragment of embroidered curtain made by Amy Robsart (1st wife of Robert Dudley) who died (allegedly!) in rather mysterious circumstances.
You can also see a framed portion of Robert Dudley's will with signature and a wardrobe that may have belonged to Queen Elizabeth I - sorry couldn't get photos of these due to where other people were sitting.
The lunch was delicious - I had a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and D had a ploughman's. Sadly, for once I was too full up to manage cake!
The Guild Hall was built around 1450 by Neville "The Kingmaker", Earl of Warwick. You can see the original table where the Guild members sat and weapons brought back from campaigns by the servicemen.
The chair used by King James I on his visit in 1617.
The Hall also contains the Queen's Own Hussars Regimental Museum which is very interesting.
The Knot Garden was constructed to commemorate the Millennium. The pattern of the clipped box hedges mirrors that of the half-timbered building that adjoins the garden.
The walled Master's Garden has been in cultivation for 500 years and has been restored. It contains a 12th century Norman arch and a huge 2000 year old vase which once stood on the banks of the River Nile.
This is a statue of St James - it once stood on part of the Hospital but was repaired and moved to safety in the garden.
I would like to say thank you to several of the brethren who were so friendly and helpful and gave us so many interesting snippets of information as we walked round.
If you are ever in Warwick I would really recommend a visit to this interesting historic building - and if you have something to eat in the Brethren's Kitchen leave room for some cake because they looked delicious!! :)
Reference : Lord Leycester Hospital Warwick Guide books.
postscript - I can't face uploading any more photos and I am sure you have seen enough for one post!! So I will do a short post tomorrow on St Mary's (we were only there for 30 minutes so far less photos!!) and then I will return to the East Devon holiday.