Saturday, 12 March 2011

My  Landmark  of  the  Week
Beamsley  Hospital

Almshouses are a familiar ingredient in our towns and villages, but the Hospital at Beamsley is more unusual. Set back from the conventional row of dwellings on the main road lies this circular stone building. In it were rooms for seven women, encircling a chapel, through which most of them had to pass to reach their doors, a daily encouragement to piety. Until the 1970s the little community of Mother and Sisters lived here, their lives governed by ancient, and ferociously strict, rules.

The Hospital was founded in 1593 by the Countess of Cumberland, at a time when the poor had only private charity to depend on.

Her building is an Elizabethan conceit, alluding both to the six circles, or annulets, on her husband’s coat of arms and to the round churches of the Templars. Her daughter, that formidable northern heroine Lady Anne Clifford, added the front range. She also furnished the chapel and, almshouses being of their nature conservative places, these fittings survive.

Finding the buildings no longer in demand, the Trustees offered them to us. The front range we have let to long-term tenants; and you can stay in the other. Using its oddly shaped rooms and repeatedly crossing the chapel is a curious experience, bringing you close to the subtle yet vigorous Elizabethan mind. And all around is Yorkshire at its highest and most unadulterated.

She who must be obeyed stayed here and enjoyed the circular layout and the views.  

Sleeps: 5

  • Solid fuel stove
  • Garden
  • Parking a short walk away
  • Dogs allowed

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