Leper Hospital

Leper Hospital - St Marys

Records show that Beccles had a Leper Hospital in Ballygate in 1270; the site became the Fauconberge School in the mid-19th Century and is now the location of St Marys House. With the eradication of leprosy in the later Middle Ages it became a traditional hospital and remained on the site until the mid-seventeenth century. There was no hospital in the town for the next 170 years until 1822 when a Dispensary was established in Hungate.

SW Rix in his archive (Vol 4 page 146) records that "The hospital or lazar-house had a burial ground attached to the chapel, where in lepers were buried by themselves. Many human bones, and twelve entire skeletons, were discovered by labourers employed in preparing the ground for the foundation of the present house erected by Mr Rede on the site of the old buildings. There bones were deposited in the charnel house under St. Michael's church. This burial ground was used till the year 1590, after which period the corpses of persons dying here were interred in the parish church-yard."

Later Rix records (Vol 23 page 26) that in 1693 the site was described as three acres of arable land, a house and Chapel that were in ruins. Charles II grants them to the Corporation of Beccles Fen for help towards the maintenance of the local poor. The clearance of the burial ground mentioned above occurred in 1788 and was carried out by Thomas Rede.

The Leper hospital site became the location of the Fauconberge School. The School building still exists but has now been extended and converted into apartments.

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