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High Wycombe Hospital, Buckinghamshire

(51°37′38″N, 0°44′40″W)
High Wycombe Hospital
SU 870 928
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Cristian Ispir
  • Ron Baxter
26 October 2011

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Feature Sets

High Wycombe is the second largest town in the traditional county (after Milton Keynes) with a population of 92,300 in 2001. It is a market town in the south of the county, 29 miles WNW of Charing Cross. The hospital stands on the old London road (A40), and comprises the ruins of the Infirmary Hall; an aisled hall originally of four bays running N-S. In 1767 it was reduced in length at the S end for the widening of the London road, and most of the other standing buildings were demolished. What remains is a roofless structure with the lower part of the outer N wall standing, and two bays of each arcade along with the third pier of the W arcade without its arches. The ruins were consolidated with brick supports in the late 19thc, and mortar repairs were made to the foundations in the 20thc.


The foundation date is not recorded, but the surviving capitals suggest a date in the 1170s or ‘80s. The founder was probably one Adam Walder, as in an inquisition of 1245 it was recorded that the brethren and sisters of the house were to pray for his soul, and also to distribute bread to the poor every year on Lady Day. The earliest notice of the hospital is a record of a lawsuit between the master, Gilbert, and Richard of Rouen concerning land in High Wycombe in 1236. In 1239 the brethren were granted the right to hold an annual fair on the feast of the translation of St Thomas Becket (7 July). After the Suppression of Chantries act of 1547 the house was sold to the mayor and burgesses and converted into a grammar school.


Interior Features



Parker’s account of the condition of the building in 1882 makes fascinating reading, and the article is illustrated with plates showing some of the capitals in a much better condition (although the author suspects that a degree of imagination was at work here). The proto-stiff-leaf on capital W2 and the flat-leaf ornament on E2 point to a date well after 1170 but probably before 1190


O. Davison, The Norman Arches of High Wycombe, The Antiquary, Vol. 43 Sept 1907, 339-41.

EH, English Heritage Listed Building 46028.

J. Parker, Account of the Hospital of St John the Baptist, Wycombe, Archaeologia X, (1792), 188., Vol. 48 1885, 285-92.

VCH, Victoria County History: Buckingham I, London 1905, 394-95.

N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, 395.