Canterbury, with it's religious associations has long been a place of pilgrimage, and remains so to this day. Nowadays, the visitor may well stay in an hotel or bed and breakfast, but obviously this was not alway so. In centuries past the pilgrims, having walked or ridden great distances, needed somewhere to stay in Canterbury and this was it. The term hospital is not used in the modern sense of doctors and nurses, but rather a place of hospitality. Founded in 1190, pilgrims and visitors still come here.
Stepping inside the building really is to go back in time. On the left as you enter is a small chapel, still in use. Straight ahead is the Undercroft, a beautiful vaulted room where the pilgrims slept. Upstairs are another chapel and the Refectory which is very impressive. There is a 13th century mural on the wall in a reasonable state of repair. Being a musiican myself, my favourite feature was the wooden minstrels gallery in the Refectory - I'd really love to play a gig there!
The rest of the building is now given over to almshouses for the elderly.
It is not a large building, and about 20 minutes will give you a good look round. Admission is £1 for adults. Given the ancient nature of the building, I would say it is not wheelchair friendly.
Update August 2013.
This tip ws initially written in 2005 and it was only when I was checking my old tips that I noticed that some of the details, specifically the website, were out of date. I have now amended the technical details and added a few more but would caution the reader that this is an old tip and urge them to check for more recent tips from other members. I leave it here as an honest reflection of a visit I made.
The Eastbridge Hospital was never a hospital for sick people. The name comes from 'hospitality'..it was built as a place for pilgrims to Canterbury to stay.
The murder of Thomas a Becket, and his subsequent elevation to sainthood, made Canterbury *the* place of pilgrimage in England, for the English as well as for those from elsewhere. And all those people needed somewhere to stay...
The first 'hospital' on the east bridge was founded in 1190 by one Edward FitzOdbold. Initially prosperous, it went into a decline after 150 years or so (perhaps there were better bed & breakfast options by then?) and was 'refounded' in 1382 by Archbishop Stratford. Later it became a school, as well as providing accommodation for 10 poor people of the parish
The hospital doesn't provide lodgings for pilgrims any more, of course, nor is it a school. But it still has a community of elderly people living in its almshouses.
When you enter, you walk down some steps. This tells you how old the building is, because it was built at ground level..but ground level has risen since the 1100s, as roads have been surfaced and resurfaced. Look to your left to see the tiny entrance chapel.
Pilgrims slept in the undercroft, a beautifully arched space which now houses a series of information boards. The windows (with, originally, views of the river Stour) are glazed now but would not have been in Medieval times: it must have been a chilly place to stay in winter!
On the first floor there the refectory, originally for eating but later turned into a chapel. There's a brilliant 3D model of Medieval Canterbury on display in this room as well as a rather lovely fresco from the 12th century..something rather special.
Above this lies the original hospital chapel, with a lovely beamed roof: a very peaceful spot.
For an entrance fee of 2GBP (as of January 2012) you can wander this ancient building to your heart's content. Don't pass by: it will give you a real understanding of the reality of Medieval Canterbury. Opening times are on the website below.
Is surprising to find an original XII century pilgrim's hospital. But here it is, at one of the most crowded medieval streets of Canterbury. And you may not pass the opportunity to visit it!.
After Beckett's death and being named Saint, Canterbury became a focus of pilgrimage and, as soon as 1176 this hospital was in work. It's thought its first Master was probably a Thomas Beckett's nephew.
For only 1 pound you can visit this medieval building marvellously preserved. From the vestible, walking down some steps you find the undercroft, a stone arched room in transtitional gothic, where the pilgrims slept. Walking up the stairs you enter the refectory, with XIII century mural paintings, and the pilgrims' chapel built in XII century that shows a very fine woodwork roof with a very complex and surprising structure, the marvellous gothic windows and medieval mural paintings inside.
This is a fast visit for the building is a small one. But it's a small art piece that must be preserved!.
Eastbridge Hospital is one of the treasures of Canterbury, steeped in history and character. From the time you walk under the quaint curved and arched doorway into the foyer area. It has really interesting history, a history of serving it's community.
This story is found in the website provided.
This medieval pilgrim's hospital, with undercroft, two chapels and refectory also includes the early 13th century painting of Christ in glory. The hospital was founded in the 12th century to provide overnight lodging to pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket.
This is a very cold stony construction right in the centre of town, it is always open and I dont think that you have to pay!?!
It has plenty of history behind it, this place was the stopping point for many pilgrims on there way from London to Canterbury.