Recently I attended a family gathering in the little old town of Brackley. I was intrigued by the medieval chapel and adjacent buildings in the centre of town, which are now part of Magdalen School (unfortunately all private; you can’t explore them). By their appearance, I guessed they might have once been monastic buildings and wondered if there was a connection with Magdalen College in Oxford. So off I went to do some research…and found some rather interesting information.
The Hospital of St James and St John, built in 1150 by ‘one Solomon’ , a clerk, under the direction of Robert le Bossu, Earl of Leicester. John Lovell VII, known as the ‘grete Lord Lovell’, the builder of Old Wardour Castle, was buried there, possibly because members of the family of his wife, Maude Holland, were also buried in the hospital chapel, and the hospital retained strong connections to the Lovells from John VII’s death through the 15th C.
In the early part of the 1400’s, the hospital fell vacant and was temporarily held by the crown; however, it was re-established by 1425 and the ordinances approved by William Lord Lovell. Six loaves of bread were given out to the poor within the chapel, and four to six bedsteads were provided for poor travellers passing through the town.
The last master of St James and St John was a James Stanley (no idea if he was a relative of THOSE Stanleys) who was incumbent from 1471 onward. In 1484, Francis Lovell granted the advowson of the hospital to the Bishop of Winchester, William Waynflete, for the sum of 400 marks. It would form part of the endowments for Waynflete’s recently-founded Magdalen College in Oxford, which King Richard had visited on his first progress in 1483, attending a debate on theology and rewarding the participants.
Exterior of the chapel of St James and St John’s, Brackley