File NCR 20d/3 - Great Hospital lease book

Identity area

Reference code

NCR 20d/3


Great Hospital lease book


  • Aug 1719-Feb 1775 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 large volume

Context area

Name of creator

(c 1249-)

Administrative history

Established in c 1249 by the then Bishop of Norwich, Walter Suffield and originally known as the Hospital of the Blessed Mary and St Giles, and afterwards, simply as St Giles's Hospital, Norwich, in the parish of St Helen in Holmstrete, now Bishopgate in Norwich.
Formerly known as St Giles' Hospital, the Great Hospital in Norwich is still a functioning charitable, residential institution and its archives extend from the thirteenth century to the twentieth century. Prior to the Municipal Reform Act of 1835, the Mayor and Corporation acted as trustees for a large number of City charities. The most ancient was the Great Hospital (founded by Walter Suffield, Bishop of Norwich, in 1249), whose records are the largest and most complete of any of the City charities.
While most English hospitals were dissolved at the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Great Hospital was one of very few which survived. On Henry VIII's death in 1547, it was surrendered to the new Protestant monarch, Edward VI. The Norwich city fathers, however, were sufficiently astute to recognize the important rôle which the Hospital might play in caring for the city's poor (who then posed a serious social problem). Edward VI succumbed to local pressure and returned the ownership of the Hospital and its possessions, land and property to the corporation, which then used it to prioritise and channel charitable work in the community. Thus, through its acquisition by the corporation, the Hospital continued to function and its records became part of the city archives.
By the terms of Edward VI's charter by letters patent in 1547, forty poor people were to be accommodated in the Hospital (then called 'God's House'), looked after by the keeper of the House and a team of four matrons or women keepers, but by the end of the century, the number had risen to 54. In 1633, owing to increased revenues, the numbers of inhabitants had increased to 86 though there were still only four women keepers. Seven years later, there were 95 inhabitants, looked after by five matrons. Of these inhabitants, the original 40 provided for by charter had been augmented by two paid for by legacies in Francis Rugg's will, two more by the will of Alderman Henry Fawcett and the remainder allowed by the mayor and aldermen because of the increase in revenues. Presumably finances were tight when in 1647, numbers were down to 71 and the team of matrons only four women, but by the early Commonwealth period, there were again 95 poor and five matrons. By 1685, a hundred poor folk were accommodated in the Hospital.
The Charity Commissioners finished their enquiry into the Norwich charities in 1833 and a copy of their printed report is to be found at N/TC 63/2. By a Chancery Order dated 18 March 1837, twenty-six Charity Trustees were appointed, with responsibility to manage the charities formerly in trust with the Corporation. The charities were divided into two lists: the Church List Charities (including the Great Hospital, the Free Grammar School, Archbishop Parker's Scholarships, the Preachers' Fund and various other smaller charities) and the General List Charities (including Doughty's Hospital, the Boys' Hospital, the Girls' Hospital, the Barnham Broom Estate and many other smaller charities).
A considerable number of charity records (many of them pre-1835) were deposited in the Record Office many years after the publication of Hudson and Tingey's Revised Catalogue of the Records of the City of Norwich in 1898. They interrelate with the records in the NCR collection and are listed at N/CCH and N/MC.
The medieval records of the Great Hospital were inscribed in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in May 2011. The UK Memory of the World Register (established in 2010) helps to raise awareness of some of the UK’s exceptional, but lesser-known documentary riches by awarding them globally-recognised Memory of the World status.

Name of creator

(fl c 1750-late 1770s)

Biographical history

A surveyor producing plans for estate owners by 1752, Joseph Rumball junior was appointed by the Norwich Corporation bailiff to the Great Hospital estates in 1753, a post which he appears to have held until 1775. In addition, on 3 October 1761, he was appointed surveyor to the Commissioners of Sewers for the City and County of Norwich, although he seems to have been contracted to undertake a major survey of the Wensum and Yare between Hellesdon Mills and Hardley Cross in May to August before his appointment. Son of Joseph Rumball senior.

Archival history

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Content and structure area

Scope and content

'Liber C' of the index referenced NCR 20d/8.
Includes copy texts of leases from the Mayor, Sheriffs, Citizens and Commanalty (the Corporation) of the City of Norwich of Great Hospital estates in Norwich and Norfolk. Indexed alphabetically at the rear by the lessees' names. The index is annotated by several entries with notes that the lease concerned had been entered (? in error) in a 'City Lease Book'. Foliated until f.330, the volume is thereafter paginated until p.382, then is foliated again until the very last few pages, which are paginated 420-422.
Also includes; a description of the bounds of the parish of Mundham as viewed by the inhabitants in May 1714 with lists of the tenants and their acreages of ploughed and other lands in Mundham, 1714 (ff.40d-42r), a terrier of the glebe and messuages and inventory of goods belonging to the Rectory of Repps cum Bastwick exhibited at the bishop's visitation in Yarmouth in June 1716 (ff.42d-44r), the presentation of the Rev. Paul Colombine to the rectory of Thurlton, 1756 (f.238d), the agreement of detailed covenants for faithful performance of office on the appointment in 1760 of William Manning as master of the Great Hospital, with a weekly bill of fare for the residents, a schedule of the various orders given by the Court of Mayoralty from 1715 to 1755 concerning the residents and staff of the Hospital (including the report, made Jan 1743 of a committee established to look into the incroachments of the nurses and other irregularities, and an inventory of fittings and fixtures in the several kitchins, brewhouse, malthouse, cellars, storehouses and washrooms on the Great Hospital premises (ff.280d-289r), presentation of Rev. Richard Day to the vicarage of South Walsham St Mary, nd [1775] (f.410), memoranda of the appointments of Joseph Rumball, Robert Lowde and after him, Bailey Bird, as bailiff to the Great Hospital estates, respectively 1753 (f.214), 1775 (f.410) and 1781 (pp.420-422) and the appointment of Robert Starkey as gamekeeper of the Corporation's manors (listed), nd [1775] (f.411).

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Language of material

  • English

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

UFP. Large paper volume with a rough calf binding. The spine and board coverings are torn and worn with the hinges split and tender, with the rear board and several folios at the rear being detached. Other sections of textblock are loose, and the folios bear considerable staining from old water damage. Both boards show evidence of having been rebound in rough calf perhaps in the early 19th century.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 08/01/2007 by Droip. Modified 06/11/2019 by Catherine.Collins.


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