St. Margarets Hospital
Mrs Elizabeth Tackle`s view showing the Hospital behind the group of trees in 1850
entry in Prebend Manor rent Book for 1845-56 showing that originally part of this manor and still paying rent. It goes on to say that they were held by the Parish Officers.
Bath Chronicle January 6 1780
The 1837 Ashmead Map of Bradford on Avon shows the Poor House (1127)with its outbuildings and grave yard behind it (1126). Someone has superimposed the station and tracks on to it in red after it was opened in 1857
The Reference Book for this map which shows the properties that the Railway was proposing to purchase in 1845 is very interesting. For 127 and 128 which represent the surviving buildings of the Leper Hospital/Poor House are shown as belonging to the Dean and Chapter at Bristol and would have been part of their Prebend Manor. The lessees are the churchwardens and overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Bradford. John Forster is listed as the Parish Officer.
The 1841 Tithe Map describes 445/446 as the Old Poor House, with John Forster as the Parish Officer (the dotted line is where the Railway would eventually go through).No. 447 is the "Cross Keys Inn"and two tenements.The painting by Mrs Elizabeth Tackle shows the side of no.776 with the plantation of trees stretching to the river. The adjoing building is probably part of the Poor House on the Frome Road .
The 1864 Ashmead Map of Bradford on Avon shows all the buildings have been demolished (446)
By 1886 The area of the Hospital is shown as a Timber yard at the side of the Railway station, built in 1848 but not opened until 1857.
The 1901 Ordnance Survey Map for the area
The 1926 Ordnance Survey Map for the area
The 1984 Ordnance Survey Map for the area
Keates Garage is now built on top of this group of buildings.
St. Margaret's Street and St. Margaret's Hill, (formerly Morgan Hill) derive their names from an ancient Hospital that stood where Keates Garage is today. John Leyland in 1540 noted that "there is a little striate over Bradford Bridge and at the ende of that is an hospitale of the Kinges of Englandes foundation". He is referring to the Leper hospital founded in 1235 under the patronage of Shaftesbury Abbey, who owned most of the town and the surrounding villages that made up the hundred of Bradford. Both a deed of 1459 and a will of 1490 refer to it. Leper Hospitals existed in most towns of any importance, and a good example also named St. Margaret's can still be seen today at Wimbourne (click on heading in the left bar). A suspected leper was subject to examination by the parish priest and a jury and if found infected were required to wear distinctive clothing.
Under the Poor Law of 1572 a parish rate would be levied by the vestry and overseers of the poor. It was probably about this time that the leper hospital became known as the Catch. Jones writes:
"In the year 1721 a resolution was passed in Vestry to purchase from Anthony Methuen, Esq., a portion of the ' Dutch Barton' in Church Street for a Parish Workhouse. Before that time there was nothing but ' out door' relief The Poor-house, as it was called, was afterwards removed to a spot close to the present railway station, the Vestry having resolved 25 June, 1754, ' to hire and take the houses called ' the Catch ' for the purpose of a Workhouse.' The premises were afterwards taken down for the construction of the railway, and the Workhouse removed to Avoncliff. In an account o lands and tenements belonging to the Prebendal Manor of Bradford in 1767 the premises are still described as " A house called ' The Catch."
An insight into how it operated can be gleaned from a report in 1797 on the survey of the poor in England as follows:
"In 1784 an Act was passed enabling the parish to appoint a general overseer, with a salary of £100. Mr. Rainer, a gentleman of considerable property, has always filled the office, but he accepts only £60 a year. The Poor are relieved at home, or maintained and employed in a Workhouse, which though old has been much improved by him. The apartments are now exceedingly neat and comfortable; the Poor are kept clean and well fed, but are made to work or are punished. If the Out-Poor are idle or get drunk, otherwise misbehave, or refuse to send their children to service at a proper age, they are ordered into the house. Badging the Poor is supposed to have reduced the rates. Mr. Rainer from his knowledge of law often prevents useless litigation; and, being well acquainted with the character and circumstances of every person who applies for relief, can discriminate very fairly between self-created and undeserved poverty".The Mr. Rainer mentioned is in fact Samuel Rainer who lived near by at 11 St. Margarets Street.
The Course of diet in the Workhouse: Breakfast-every day, onion broth made of water, onions, oatmeal and fat of meat broth; no meat broth used. Dinner-Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, meat and vegetables; other days, bread and cheese. Supper-every day, bread and cheese. 2lbs. of bread are allowed every day to those who work out of the house, and 1½lbs. to those who spin. Children receive a quantity proportionate to their ages. The cheese is not weighed".
In the year 1841, the failure pf the local Bank and of several of the largest manufacturers threw hundreds out of work, and cast an abiding gloom over our town, the effect of which has hardly yet passed away. Then no less than 400 were forced to seek shelter within the walls of the workhouse, a number much beyond the capabilities of the then existing buildings properly to accommodate, and the limit allowed by law. Added to these, 300 able-bodied men were employed in out-door labour, in making roads or other parochial improvements. For the payment of these last-named poor persons, for some time no less than £70 was required weekly. Poor rates rose to ten shillings in the pound; distress was universal. Many noble efforts were made to meet the exigencies of the distressed weavers. An emigration fund of large amount was formed, by which many of them were enabled to seek in foreign lands employment which here was no longer to be obtained. By degrees others were helped on their way to Wales or to the North of England, or to other Peaces more in our immediate neighbourhood, that there they might earn subsistence by the labour of their hands for them-
yes and their families.
In 1835 the Poor House Commissioners authorized an expenditure of £3,000 on the purchase of an industrial building at Avoncliffe which was intended to accommodate 250 inmates.
Finally the Poor House was demolished along with a number of old buildings when the railway cuttings were made after 1850. The site is today approximately where Keates Garage stands today.
At Wimborne there is still a St. Margarets Hospital though its original role of a leper Hospital(it was founded in the 12 th Century)has long since dissappeared and it is now a homes for sixteen retired people, mostly from farming or rural backgrounds.