There is no written reference to the leper house after 1300, and it may well have ceased to exist at this time. The Priory of St. John
continued until its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1547.
It seems that the Bear Inn became established on land adjacent to St. John's Priory and the leper house as a hostel or annexe to these institutions, providing additional accommodation for travellers and visitors along the King's Way. Indeed, the earliest known (dating from 1464) written reference to The Bear refers to it as a hospice.
Throughout the Middle Ages there were, of course, a number of illnesses which caused suffering and death on a wide scale. Most of these
were contagious illnesses of which we see relatively little in modern times. We have mentioned leprosy, but must add bubonic plague, (which caused the Black Death and killed about half the country in
1348-1350), along with a liberal amount of dysentery, cholera, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and smallpox.
None of these really showed much sign of declining until well into the 1700 and 1800's. Many of these illnesses were recognised as
contagious, leprosy from as long ago as biblical times. Others followed in the Middle Ages, and most towns arranged for one (or more) dwellings to be designated "The Pest House", where unfortunate
sufferers of these various infections would be sent, not for treatment, but most probably to die.
In Hungerford, the pest house is clearly marked on the 1819 Enclosure Award Map. It lay, as they so often did, on the very edge of the town, and in Hungerford's case it was the most westerly dwelling on the road out of the town to the west, close to Freeman's Marsh. The building still exists today, the thatched cottage near the marsh gate, now much extended. It probably became established c.1603, when there was much plague in the area. By 1848, it is known that a new pest house was established at Sanham Green. The implication is that the former pest house had closed by this time.
Medicine in Hungerford:
>The Early Days
-The Start of Organised Medicine
-The 19th Century and Medical Nepotism
-The Early 1900s
- District Nursing
-The First World War
-Between the Wars
-The Second World War
-The Coming of the N.H.S.
-The Healthcare Team
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