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Colchester Archaeological Trust

EAS Report 76: summary

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Volume 34, 2003: Excavations at St.Mary Magdalen's Hospital, Brook Street, Colchester.
by Carl Crossan
(with contributions from Janet Cooper, Nina Crummy, C. Pamela Graves, Andrew Harris, Peter Murphy, S. Pinter-Bellows and Helen Walker)

Date report completed: 2004
Location: Essex Archaeology and History 34
Map reference(s):
File size: 5353 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results:
Keywords: excavation, mary, magdalen, hospital, brook street, colchester

Summary. Rescue excavations in St Mary Magdalen's churchyard and adjacent almshouse land revealed the remains of a small medieval hospital and recorded the stages in its transition to a post-medieval almshouse. A religious institution which was founded as a refuge for lepers in the early 1100s, the hospital's original accommodation included an infirmary hall and a timber outbuilding in grounds situated half-a-mile from the walled town. Some of the excavated skeletons showed abnormalities consistent with leprosy. In the c. mid 13th century, the hospital's main quarters were relocated to a new site in the northern area of its grounds when St Mary Magdalen's church was built on part of the hospital's original infirmary hall. Next to the church, the eastern part of the 12th-century hall was altered and retained for a time. Foundations projecting from the south side of the church are believed to belong to a chapel for hospital inmates used from the 13th century onward. The main hospital building to the north was later joined by a second block which remained in use as an almshouse until it was demolished in 1832.