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|Location||Norwich, England, United Kingdom|
|Lists||Hospitals in England|
The Great Hospital is a medieval hospital that has been serving the people of Norwich, Norfolk, England, since the 13th century. It is situated on a 7-acre (2.8 ha) site in a bend of the River Wensum to the north-east of Norwich Cathedral. Bishop Walter de Suffield founded St. Giles's Hospital, as the hospital was originally known, in 1249. What makes the hospital notable today is its continuous record of care, the range of existing medieval buildings on the hospital grounds, most of which are still in use, and the extensive archives that record the hospital's long history.
The original beneficiaries of the new hospital in 1249 were aged priests, poor scholars, and sick and hungry paupers. Clerics remained unmarried in this period, so they had no family to support them in old age. The poor scholars, boys selected on merit from local song schools, were to receive a daily meal during term times. This was to continue until the boy had achieved a good grasp of Latin. With this help, bright but poor boys were given the chance to train as choristers or even to enter the priesthood.
Thirty beds were earmarked for the sick poor, and thirteen paupers were to be fed at the hospital gates each day. Four chaplains, a deacon and sub-deacon, as well as a master of St. Giles's, were appointed. The hospital was modelled upon the Augustinian rule under which excessive liturgical ritual was discouraged to permit more time for charitable works. Nevertheless, the master and chaplains were bound to sing three masses a day, including one for Bishop Suffield's soul, as well as a weekly mass in honour of Saint Giles.
Since the mid-19th century, living accommodation has been constantly improved to meet residents' needs. In 1849, five cottages were built; a sick ward followed in 1889, a further 12 cottages in 1906, and another 17 dwellings in 1937. However, it was not only the hospital's rising population that generated the need for new buildings; newcomers had higher expectations of levels of comfort, privacy and space. As a result, the 17 cottages built in 1937 (now called Suffield Court) were later changed to single-person dwellings.
In 1972, the old sick ward was replaced by Elaine Herbert House, where an improved form of nursing care was provided. The lodge was finally demolished in 1975. Prior Court consists of 18 single and 6 double flats which are designed to accommodate people who need regular support. It was opened in June 1980. In 1986, St Helen's House was converted into 8 residential flats. In 1999 a new group of cottages were built behind Suffield Court.
Plans were made to demolish the 12 cottages built in 1906, and replace them with a new two-storey block containing 18 flats. The plans were passed and the demolition and new building work commenced during 2011. These plans include 6 additional flats to be added to Prior Court, the redesign of the main carpark and a new workshop to be built on the site of the current garages.
The above redevelopment is now nearing completion (October 2013). The new two-storey block of 18 flat now called Holme Terrace is almost fully occupied and the refurbished Prior Court should start taking in resident within the next few weeks.
The Great Hospital is part of Norwich 12.
The Head of the Great Hospital is called 'Master'. Hamon de Calthorpe was the first Master in 1256, and sixty-four Masters have followed him until the present day. Substantial changes that modernised the Great Hospital and ensured that it was a model community for the elderly going into the twenty-first century were initiated by Jack Davies Shaw, Master from 1965 until 1980. The first female Master was Dorothy North from 2000 until 2007, and the current Master is Mr Andrew Barnes.