Saint Cross: England's Oldest Almshouse Find!

Peter Hopewell's history of St Cross was published by Phillimore in 1995 as a limited edition, shortly before his sudden death.  


Peter was an Oxford history graduate, a former headmaster and Chief Examiner for the old 'O' level examinations.  He was also a Churchwarden at St Cross with St Faith's and a Trustee and Honorary Archivist of St Cross.  The proceeds from sales (after production costs had been met) were divided between the Trustees of St Cross and the PCC of St Cross with St Faith's. 

The foreword written by the Earl of Malmesbury, describes Peter's book as a 'full history (the first since 1868) of the two foundations that make up the hospital.'  The book documents the Hospital's early foundation, its buildings and the lives of the brothers and the Masters.

St Cross lies within the parish of St Faiths and it was in the late 1400s, following the deterioration of the church, that the villagers 'approached the Hospital of St Cross to obtain permission to worship there'.  The font from St Faiths was brought to St Cross, as, until the villagers joined St Cross church, there had been no need for a font 'for the inhabitants were all old men or nuns, and ecclesiatical law made it plain that fonts were the exclusive privileges of parochial churches'.

St Cross with St Faiths has, since the 1400s, been the place of worship for all those that live at the hospital, along with the parishioners of St Faiths, led by the current Master, an Archdeacon.

Visitors to St Cross today will see that the south wing of the brethren's quarters, shown in this drawing from 1760, no longer exists (in Hopwell, 1995, page 99).  An archaeological dig is currently taking place on the site. 



11 August 2009 from Cordelia Gray

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