Spital Boughton

I live in the part of Chester called Boughton, and more specifically Spital Boughton, named after the 12th-century hospital of St Giles. This was predominantly for lepers, and like other such hospitals was built well outside the city, on the road from the east, originally the Roman road from Deva (Chester) to Mamucium (Manchester) and Eburacum (York), part of Iter II in the Antonine Itineraries (see description in Thomas Coddrington's Roman Roads in Britain).

The only thing that survives of the hospital is the graveyard, still consecrated ground and so preserved from building. This is always a mass of daffodils in the spring. The name does however survive, the modern municipal housing on part of the site being named St Giles.

The memory of the hospital also survives in Spital Walk, the road to the north, called Spitalfields Walk on the 1874 map. The fields in question were covered with housing in the 19th century, partly to house the influx of Irish people to the area. The pub in this road is called the Spital Vaults, and also dates from the 19th century.

Between the spital and the spital fields was Boughton Chapel, which belonged to St Werburgh's, the Benedictine monastery now the cathedral. This was replaced in the 19th century by some of the black-and-white mock-Tudor buildings for which Chester is famous, originally the post-office and now a retail showroom.

The hospital is marked on the 15th-century map on the Mapping Medieval Chester site.

April 2008