Lord Leycester Hospital

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Lord Leycester Hospital

The Lord Leycester Hospital (often known simply as the Lord Leycester) is a remarkable Elizabethan building, with mediæval elements, in Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, which still serves a similar purpose to that for which it was built: it is a retirement home for ex-servicemen. It stands next to the West Gate, on the High Street.

Buildings and composition

The Hospital comprises the mediæval Chapel of St James the Great, living quarters (including the Master's House), a Guildhall (with anterooms) and a Great Hall. Also contained within the establishment are the Master's Garden and the Museum of the Queen's Own Hussars. The hospital is a grade I listed building.[1] The surrounding grounds are separately listed.


Courtyard of the Hospital

The Chantry Chapel of St James was built in 1126 by Roger de Newburgh, 2nd Norman Earl of Warwick. In the late 14th century it was rebuilt by the 12th Earl of Warwick. He granted the benefice of the Chapel to the Guild of St George, a guild created on 20 April 1383 under licence from King Richard II. The Guild of St George was later joined there by the Guild of the Blessed Virgin, which had been based at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, forming the United Guilds of Warwick. Living quarters and reception, meeting, and dining halls were added to the chapel as a consequence. The Guildhall was built in 1450 by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

The United Guilds were dispersed by King Henry VIII in 1546. However, their property had already been transferred to the Burgesses of Warwick by Thomas Oken, Master of the Guilds. Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester acquired the buildings in 1571, founding therein a hospital for aged or injured soldiers and their wives, under royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I, run by 12 resident "Brethren" (originally soldiers) under the charge of a "Master", and funded from the income of various estates. This hospital lasted until 1950.

Between 1881 and 1930 the hospital served as a terminus for the Leamington & Warwick Tramways & Omnibus Company, the other end being close to Leamington Spa railway station.

Egyptian Urn

In 1956 the Corporation of the Master and Brethren of the Hospital was abolished by Act of Parliament, having operated under the original charter for nearly 400 years, and replaced with a board of Governors. On 3 November 1966 a restored Hospital with modernised quarters was opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and today the Hospital is run by the Master, a retired officer of the Armed Forces. Eight ex-servicemen and their wives are provided with flats in return for their services. The Hospital is funded by visitor income, the original estates having been sold over the years.

Other historical notes of interest:

  • The Grade I listed stone urn in the Master's Garden is 2,000 years old and was originally part of an Egyptian nilometer. [2]
  • A banquet held for King James I at the Great Hall put the town of Warwick into debt for ten years.

Television appearances

The building has been used in many historical-set television productions including:

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Tom Jones
  • Moll Flanders
  • The 2007 Doctor Who episode The Shakespeare Code.

It was also featured in David Dimbleby's 2007 documentary series, How We Built Britain.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Lord Leycester Hospital)


  1. National Heritage List England no. 1035441: Hospital of Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester (Historic England)
  2. National Heritage List England no. 1364812: Egyptian Urn In Garden Of Lord Leicesters Hospital (Historic England)