*** DEBUG END ***

Out of the Question

13 February 2015


Your answers

Why are so many almshouses dedicated to St John the Baptist?

Before there were almshouses, there were hospitals, which began to be founded in England in the late 11th century. Soon afterwards, the Order of St John (later the Knights of St John) began to run a hospital of St John the Baptist in Jerusalem. They followed the Rule of St Augustine, as did the clergy who ran many other new hospitals in Western Europe, and the dedications to St John are likely to have been influenced by the Jerusalem one. In England, they appeared during the 12th century in numerous towns such as Bristol, Exeter, Northampton, Nottingham, and Oxford.

Hospitals generally ceased to offer care for the sick in the late 14th century and turned into almshouses providing accommodation for the elderly and infirm. Most of the surviving almshouses dedicated to St John are in fact these older hospitals, but some new almshouses of the later Middle Ages also commemorated the same saint.

There is a complete list of hospitals, almshouses, and their dedications in D. Knowles and R. N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses: England and Wales, second edition (London, 1971).

(Professor) Nicholas Orme Department of History
Exeter University

Your questions

Should we stop calling Lent a fast, now that true fasting is rare? A. M.

Address: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.


We ask readers not to send us letters for forwarding, and those giving answers to provide full name, address, and, if possible, telephone number.

Forthcoming Events

26 January 2022
Book launch: Entering the Twofold Mystery
Author Erik Varden in conversation with Sarah Coakley.

1 February 2022
Cathedrals and social justice
Book free tickets for this Church Times webinar with Mark Russell, Anne Richards and Adrian Dorber.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four* articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)