Maison Dieu

Faversham

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1095X

One of the oldest hospitals in the Canterbury area is St John’s Canterbury founded in 1085 by Archbishop Lanfranc. This was built on a large scale making provisions for 100 old and needy folk with `watchers’ to care for them in sickness and a priory over the road.


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1095

1180X

Eastbridge Hospital was founded in 1180.  When Edward the Black Prince lay dying in 1376, he asked for water from the spring at Eastbridge Hospital, which was rumoured to have healing properties, because the common medieval disease of leprosy had by then become rare at the hospital. Eastbridge Hospital continued to function until the 1920s.


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1180

1234X

Maison Dieu was commissioned by Henry III, to be one of the major stopping off points for pilgrims on the road from London to Canterbury.  The house that stands today is all that remains of a much bigger complex, and was probably a chantry house for monks. This map from the 1950s shows that the building has been added to and modified in nearly every century since it was first constructed.


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1234

1250X

Juliana of Wye, one of Queen Eleanor of Provence’s ladies in waiting  took up residence in Maison Dieu in the mid 13th century and received money for milk and butter which she used for making ointments which she sold out of a ‘schoppa’ in the building. Though some think she was a medieval beautician, her concoctions could also have had pharmaceutical properties.

 


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1250

1343X

The famous author of the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer would have stayed at the Maison Dieu complex during his own pilgrimage to Canterbury. He lived from 1343 – 1400. One of his most memorable creations, the Wife of Bath, is deaf. Historical records which date back to Chaucer’s time are held at Canterbury Archive, a good source for Maison Dieu and other local almshouses.


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1343

1450X

Another character in the records is Arnold Knyght – a Lancastrian Falconer and Yorkist yeoman.  He had been a falconer to three kings. Suffering from leprosy, he himself built a house on the site of the hospital by Whiteditch near Rochester in order to spend his life in divine service. Not all those seeking sanctuary in medieval hospitals were poor.


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1450

1660X

The Royalist and antiquarian William Somner is an example of the kind of person who allowed hospitals and almshouses to survive through turbulent times. His research allowed the Canterbury almshouses to claim money owed to them and keep going in the aftermath of the Civil War.


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1660

1890X

Photography of Maison Dieu begins in around 1890, and charts some of the changes to the building in its most recent century. Some pictures show the interior badly in need of repair – others show it turned into a shop in the 1940s with taped against  bomb damage.


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1890

Maison Dieu  was a hospital  and monastery commissioned by Henry III in 1234. One of the stops for pilgrims on the way to Canterbury, the poet Geoffrey Chaucer and royalty would have stayed there. Today, only a single building from a much larger complex now remains. This became England’s earliest village museum in 1925 and  today houses history of the local area including material from Roman archaeological excavations.

Exploring the history of Maison Dieu will allow us to discover some of the earliest narratives in our history – including what we can learn about disabled people’s lives from medieval human remains and books and records held elsewhere in the area.

The timeline

1095

One of the oldest hospitals in the Canterbury area is St John’s Canterbury founded in 1085 by Archbishop Lanfranc. This was built on a large scale making provisions for 100 old and needy folk with `watchers’ to care for them in sickness and a priory over the road.

1180

Eastbridge Hospital was founded in 1180.  When Edward the Black Prince lay dying in 1376, he asked for water from the spring at Eastbridge Hospital, which was rumoured to have healing properties, because the common medieval disease of leprosy had by then become rare at the hospital. Eastbridge Hospital continued to function until the 1920s.

1234

Maison Dieu was commissioned by Henry III, to be one of the major stopping off points for pilgrims on the road from London to Canterbury.  The house that stands today is all that remains of a much bigger complex, and was probably a chantry house for monks. This map from the 1950s shows that the building has been added to and modified in nearly every century since it was first constructed.

1250

Juliana of Wye, one of Queen Eleanor of Provence’s ladies in waiting  took up residence in Maison Dieu in the mid 13th century and received money for milk and butter which she used for making ointments which she sold out of a ‘schoppa’ in the building. Though some think she was a medieval beautician, her concoctions could also have had pharmaceutical properties.

 

1343

The famous author of the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer would have stayed at the Maison Dieu complex during his own pilgrimage to Canterbury. He lived from 1343 – 1400. One of his most memorable creations, the Wife of Bath, is deaf. Historical records which date back to Chaucer’s time are held at Canterbury Archive, a good source for Maison Dieu and other local almshouses.

1450

Another character in the records is Arnold Knyght – a Lancastrian Falconer and Yorkist yeoman.  He had been a falconer to three kings. Suffering from leprosy, he himself built a house on the site of the hospital by Whiteditch near Rochester in order to spend his life in divine service. Not all those seeking sanctuary in medieval hospitals were poor.

1890

Photography of Maison Dieu begins in around 1890, and charts some of the changes to the building in its most recent century. Some pictures show the interior badly in need of repair – others show it turned into a shop in the 1940s with taped against  bomb damage.