Small tower in hospital of St. James by Westminster

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Town House

There are no visible remains

NameSmall tower in hospital of St. James by Westminster
Alternative Names
Historic CountryLondon and Middlesex
Modern AuthorityLondon Borough of Westminster
1974 AuthorityGreater London
Civil ParishCity Of Westminster

The patent rolls record, dated 20 Feb 1379 a "pardon to Thomas Orgrave, clerk, master of the hospital of St. James by Westminster, for crenellating without licence a small tower therein for the security of its ornaments." The term 'pardon' does not mean any wrong doing had occurred other than perhaps a breach of etiquette possibly that of making an application for licence after construction was finished.

Hospital founded before 1189 for 13 leprous women, and 8 brethren, first documented during C12. The brothers and sisters were in separate houses, and followed the Austin rule. It was demolished in 1531 for the construction of St James's Palace Excavations in 1925 and 1990 have located burials and parts of the hospital including a possible chapel.

"The hospital of St. James for leprous women, situated west of Charing, in the parish of St. Margaret's, Westminster ... The Black Death carried off the warden and all the brothers and sisters except William de Weston, who, in May, 1349, was made master, but in 1351 was deposed for wasting the goods of the hospital. It is said that in 1353 the house was without inmates, and the place appears to have been in much the same condition in 1384, when Thomas Orgrave, the master, with the consent of the treasurer, let to Elizabeth Lady le Despenser for her life, at a rent of 10 marks, practically the whole hospital, viz., the houses within the gate in front of the door of the principal hall, the hall with the upper and lower chambers at each end, the stone tower, the chamber over the entrance, the kitchen and bakery, the houses assigned to the master, and all the gardens and ground within the precincts

It is possible that the hospital was in need of funds just then, since a papal relaxation granted in 1393 indicates that the chapel was being rebuilt, but money would hardly have been raised by a lease of the building of the hospital, if the inmates for whom the rooms were intended had been there to use them." (VCH)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ293800
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  • Baker, T., 1970, Medieval London p. 67-8
  • RCHME, 1925, Inventory of Historic Monuments in London Vol. 2: West London (HMSO) p. 130 online transcription
  • Reddan, M., 1909, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH London Vol. 1 p. 542-6 (history of the hospital) online transcription
  • (see also bibliography for St James Palace)


  • Davis, Philip, 2010-11, 'Crenellated town houses in Medieval England' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 24 p. 270-91
  • Barrett, M., 1991, 'Marlbomugh House, Pall Mall' London Archaeologist Vol. 6.11 p. 308 (excavation note) online copy
  • Coulson, C., 1982, 'Hierarchism in Conventual Crenellation: An Essay in the Sociology and Metaphysics of Medieval Fortification' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 26 p. 69-100 see online copy
  • Honeybourne, M.B., 1967, 'The Leper Hospitals of the London Area: with an Apeendix on some other mediaeval hospital of Middlesex' Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Vol. 21 p. 1-62 esp 5, 54 download copy
  • Blakiston, N., 1959, 'The London and Middlesex Estates of Eton College' Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Vol. 20 p. 51-5 download copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1895, Calendar of Patent Rolls Richard II (1377-81) Vol. 1 p. 325 online copy