The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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It is a building of unique interest in the beautiful Early Decorated style, consisting of a large hall whose roof rests on great wooden pillars, and conies nearly down to the ground at the eaves, and, opening eastward by a surprisingly wide and lofty arch, a spacious chapel. This last has large Decorated windows, three sedilia on different levels, and a piscina; the miserere stalls and the screen are original features, the latter has turned mullions, good tracery with gables and a horizontal beam above. The date may be put about 1290. No other hospital in England seems to preserve exactly the same arrangement,* which in the Middle Ages was not unusual; for instance, the Infirmary of Bardney Abbey in Lincolnshire (recently excavated) was on precisely the same plan, while the Infirmary at Ely differed only in assigning to the chapel the eastmost bays of the " nave " in addition to the " chancel." At Liibeck the picturesque old Heiligen Geist-Hospital has a sort of west transept, the facade with three gables and tall octagonal turrets between, that forms the chapel, and separated by a screen, is a very long nave that forms the ward. The " nave " or hall at St. Mary's was later divided into little chambers with a passage between, large brick chimneys being built up through the roof; they are dated 1680. Elizabeth granted a charter in 1582; Cromwell handed the institution over to the city. The charity is at present very flourishing, and is administered according to the original trusts with necessary modifications. An extension for old men has been recently made by adapting some cottages to the purpose.
* That called Bishop Still's at Wells was similar, but the "nave" is divided by a floor.
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