St Nicholas Hospital
The Hospital of St Nicholas was founded by Robert Bingham, Bishop of Salisbury, in 1228. It was built next to the ford over the river Avon, and today can be found near Harnham Bridge in St Nicholas Road.
Religious staff and chaplains undertook charitable work looking after the sick and infirm, with beds in the nave of the southern chapel of the building. Chancellor Wordsworth in his book ‘St Nicholas Hospital’ states it was a semi-secular organisation and not ruled by monastic foundation. (Source: The History of Salisbury Infirmary, 1922 by Alderman Charles Haskins, p1.)
Other related information
- One of the first known uses of the word ‘Sarum’ is on the seal of St Nicholas Hospital, in use in 1239. (Source: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol6/pp93-94)
- Famous Victorian novelist, Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), spent his early years working for the Post Office and came to Salisbury during 1851 to investigate the rural mail service. Later in 1855 Trollope published ‘The Warden’, the first of 6 novels in the Barchester Chronicles series and based in fictional almshouse Hiram Hospital. The novels were a criticism of organisational corruption and greed and there is some discussion as to whether Hiram Hospital was based on the St Nicholas Hospital or not. According to Trollope’s own autobiography he drew inspiration from his visit to Salisbury and stated he ‘stood for an hour on the little bridge in Salisbury, and made out to my own satisfaction the spot on which Hiram’s Hospital should stand’. (Source: http://stnicholashospital.co.uk/Trollope.html)
- More about the history of St Nicholas Hospital can be found on British History Online. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol3/pp343-356