- 1294-1685 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Name of creator
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
Name of creator
Name of creator
Name of creator
Name of creator
Name of creator
Name of creator
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
These accounts are the fair-copy, final accounts produced initially by the master or by other clerical officials at the hospital, and, after the Edwardian re-foundation, by the Receiver-General of the hospital's income, from information drawn from many subsidiary accounts and memoranda. These subsidiary bailiffs', reeves', and receivers' accounts from individual estates (manors, rectories, etc.), where they survive, are listed under NCR 24c-i.
The accounts are described under four broad categories: Early, that is, from 1294 to 1397, being generally unidentified with reference to office, but probably relating to the Hospital's Surveyors or to individual Masters acting as surveyors; those of the Collectors of the Norwich rents and farms; the later 15th-century, general and domestic accounts of the offices of Receiver, Surveyor and Steward; and those of the post-Edwardian foundation hospital's Collectors and General Receivers from 1548 onwards.
The early accounts survive from the 1290s, but mainly date from the first and second quarters of the 14th century, with another grouping in the last quarter of that century. Although the Norwich collector's accounts survive from 1414 onwards, those of the Receiver and Surveyor, arguably the more direct successor series to the earlier account rolls, only survive from 1465 onwards, leaving a gap in coverage of over 67 years in the early-mid 15th century. Both of the later medieval account series cease in 1528, leaving another gap in coverage until the earliest surviving Edwardian-foundation account of 1548-9, a gap that encompassed the troubled years of the suppression of monastic institutions generally, and, locally, of the surrender of the Hospital to the Crown, and its subsequent re-granting to the City of Norwich.
The Steward's accounts appear not to have been identified as such until the mid-15th century, and had but a brief independent existence before they (though not the office itself) were subsumed into the Receiver's 'general' accounts, leaving just two distinct, late-medieval series of accounts, that of the Collector of Norwich revenues and the other, of the Receiver of all the country estates' rents and farms. This persisted until at least 1528 and possibly through the subsequent gap in coverage affecting both series until the re-founding of the Hospital in 1547. When the annual accounts reappeared in 1548, they were in a unified form, produced by the office of the General Collector and Receiver of all revenues, rents and profits of the possessions of the Hospital of St Giles (later called Gods House, or the House of the Poor People in Holmstreet in the City of Norwich) and of all foreign receipts. Under this style, in rolled-file format until 1686 (of those listed here in the NCR catalogue), and in volume form (listed under the reference, N/MC 17), from 1687 until 1945.
The medieval hospital's accounting year commenced at Michaelmas (29 September) throughout its independent existence, but adopted, upon its re-foundation under the City's control in 1547, an accounting period starting on 24 June (the feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist) which accorded with that of the City itself. This remained the case until Thomas King's time as Receiver and Collector, in office from 1618 onwards, when the accounting year was changed to Lady Day (25 March) to the following Lady Day, and so continued thereafter.
The apparently-draft account from 1320-21 (NCR 24a/4) appears to have been recorded on the dorse of an incomplete, mid-13th century schedule of parishes in five deaneries in Suffolk, probably compiled by diocesan officials, possibly for taxation purposes.
These accounts would have drawn upon subsidiary accounts, such as the bailiffs' accounts from individual manors, catalogued under NCR 24c.
Names of Hospital accountants (from the rolls and not a comprehensive list owing to gaps in coverage):
Early accountants (surveyors of the Hospital's estates, often senior chaplains, or sometimes, the Masters of the Hospital):
Sir Thomas de Hemmersby, Master, c 1294, Sir John de Metingham, c 1319-1329, Sir John de Spa..teshale [?Spexhall, Suffolk] of Cleye (alias John de Cleye of Sp...teshale, or simply, John de Cleye, 1329-1336, John de Collebe, 1335 (jointly with John de Cleye)-1339, Roger de Eton chaplain, c 1346 onwards, Roger de Erpyngham, 1375-6, and Sir Benedict Cobbe, Master and surveyor and receiver, 1385-1397.
Stewards: Richard Botes, clerk, 1414-15, Brother Ralph Somerby, 1465-67, Robert Godfrey, clerk, 1483-1490, John Hekker, clerk, 1498-1501 and 1505-08, Master [of the Hospital] John Jullys, 1502-03
Collectors of Norwich farms and rents: William Julles, pre-1414, John Betyns, 1414-16, John Marchall, clerk, ?-1426, William Garlond, clerk, 1426-7, Geoffrey Halle, clerk, 1430-31, Richard Lynes, clerk, 1431-33, John Betynes, 1434-35, Thomas Lucas, chaplain, 1435-36, Brother Ralph Somerby/Summerby, clerk, 1436-1467, 'Sir' Brother Peter Goos, 1467 and 'Sir' Brother Richard Braunch, 1468-1471, Robert Turnor, 1471-2, 'Sir' John Julles, chaplain, 1472-1477, Robert Turnor, 1477-8, Robert Blithe, chaplain, 1478-80, Richard Braunche, chaplain, 1480-1, Robert Godfrey, clerk, 1484-?1496, William Fewaleyn/Fualeyn/FitzAleyn, 1496-7 and 1505-1515, John Hekker, clerk, 1498-1500, William Ferbye, 1502-3, Nicholas Dowse, 1515-17, Robert Pawe, 1519-23, Robert Tompson, 1523-4, William Tyke, 1524-27, Edward Aleyn, 1527-8
Receivers and Surveyors: 'Sir' Brother Peter Goos, 1465-67, John Baly, 1471-73, 'Sir' Robert Blithe, chaplain, 1478-80, Master John Smyth, clerk, 1480-82, Robert Godfrey, clerk, 1482-89, John Hekker, clerk, 1499-1501 and 1505-08, Master [of the Hospital] John Jullys, clerk, 1502-3, William Fualeyn, 1511-?, John Hekker, clerk and Robert Treswell, chaplain, 1515-16, Robert Treswelle, chaplain, 1516-1528
Post-Edwardian foundation Collectors and Receivers were: Alderman Thomas Codde, 1548-9 [Mayor in 1549], Thomas Kyng, Collector from 1549, Collector and Receiver from 1553-55, Alderman Thomas Beamonde (as executor of Thomas Kyng's will), 1555-59, Anthony Marker, 1559-1570 [also Town Clerk, 1559-1579], Thomas Corye the Younger, 1570-1590 [also Town Clerk, 1580-1591], Richard Tolye (Toolye/Tooley), 1590-1598, Leonard Mapes, gent., 1599-c1613 [also Town Clerk, 1596-1609], Thomas Doughty and Henry Colfer, 1613-1616?, Thomas King, gent., 1616-1639 [also Town Clerk, 1615-1639] and Thomas Baleston, gent., 1639-1648/9 [also Town Clerk, 1639-1664], Mayor and Alderman Thomas Barrett, 1650-1665, Thomas Corie, Esq., 1665-1667 [also Town Clerk, 1664-1687], William Rayley, gent., 1667-1685, and Nicholas Bickerdike, 1686-
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
NCR 24a/1-9 - Early account rolls, 1294-1397
NCR 24a/10-16 - Collectors of the Norwich estates' rents and farms' accounts, 1414-1528
NCR 24a/17-21 and 140 - Receiver's, supervisor or surveyor and steward's general and domestic accounts, 1465-1527
NCR 24a/22-139 - God's House Collector and Receivers' accounts, 1548-1686
NCR 24a/141-145 - Hospital Steward and Receiver's draft accounts, rentals and supporting memoranda, 1428-1550
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Thomas Codde; ?-1558; Mayor of Norwich; Norwich, Norfolk (Creator)
- Great Hospital; c 1249-; Norwich, Norfolk (Creator)
- Sir Peter Goos; fl c 1442-1472; chaplain, member and officer of the community at St Giles' Hospital; Norwich, Norfolk (Creator)
- Sir Richard Braunche; fl 1480-?1507; chaplain at St Giles Hospital; Norwich, Norfolk (Creator)
- Sir Benedict Cobbe; fl 1390-1397; Master of the Hospital of St Giles; Terrington, Norfolk (Creator)
- Sir John Hekker; fl c 1498-1533; clergyman (Creator)
- Sir John de Metingham; fl 1319-1324; Norwich, Norfolk (Creator)
- Roger de Eton; fl late 14th century; overseer; Seething, Norfolk (Creator)
- Sir John Jullys; fl late 15th century-early 16th century; priest, master of St Giles' Hospital, Norwich; Norwich, Mundham, Seething, Reppes cum Bastwick and Coltishall, Norfolk (Creator)