A Hospitium that provided hospitality

Rouser 2012
Rouser 2012

ROUSER this week seems awash with local photographs of mystery locations and functions.

Take this Reeves photograph, taken in the late 19th century. The only information Rouser has is that is, or was, called Spital Cottages.

The only Spital in the Lewes vicinity that Rouser knows of is Spital Road, between Western Road and the prison. It seems hard to believe the cottages once stood in that part of town.

As L. S. Davey puts it in is Street Names of Lewes, the road takes its contracted name from a hospital there which was endowed in about 1085 by the Lewes Priory.

The hospitium of St Nicolas was used to sustain poor brethren and also dispensed hospitality (that word again) to pilgrims and travellers until 1537 when the Priory and its possessions were surrendered to Henry VIII.

Could it be that the remains of the hospitium were converted to Spital Cottages, which in their turn made way for Western Road School.

Such cottages were used as paupers’ homes.

An archaeological excavation at the site some 20 years ago revealed a number of graves there - one ot two quite gruesome.