Monday, 13 August 2012
Greatham Hospital of God
The Bishop of Durham has owned the village and the surrounding land since the Middle Ages, Bishop Stitchel in 1273 having gained the manor from the Crown. It had been confiscated from Peter de Montford, who had fought against Henry III in defence of the Magna Carta. Bishop Stitchel, who admired Peter de Montford, did not wish to profit from the estate and endowed a charity, the Hospital of God, for elderly priests and poor men. The endowment was the whole of Greatham manor. The present hospital was rebuilt in 1803 during the mastership of William Egerton, later the Duke of Bridgewater. James Wyatt designed the new hospital and was knighted later for his work on Windsor Castle. The hospital is a sheltered home for the brethren, who must be poor and of good character, bachelors or widowers and under 50 years of age. Other housing is provided for retired clergy. In 1973 the 700th anniversary of the hospital, the first of three groups of almshouses were built within the village.