THE HISTORY

This group of buildings dates back to around the 11th Century, when Glastonbury was a major pilgrimage destination. It was at first a Hospital for up to 13 sick men with a Chapel (all paid for by Queen Margaret of Scotland).

Two rows of Men’s Almshouses replaced the Hospital in the 16th Century, but one row was demolished in the 1960s – its foundations are under the garden.

The Mary and Margaret Charity completed a large refurbishment and repair programme in 2012, including a new stone courtyard wall and disabled access WC, and a new West garden.

Timeline

 

1264 Magdalene Hospital may have existed. It was a gift from the Abbots of Glastonbury to house poor men
1444 Chapel built – it opened off a large open roofed hall.
1500’s Almshouses converted into 2 rows of cottages
1640 Restoration work took place
1740 Restoration work took place
1800’s Upper floors removed and new ceilings inserted. Neighbouring rooms joined to form two-room apartments.
1950’s and 60’s One row demolished to become a garden. The remaining row was insensitively repaired. The charity that owned the site passed it all to the local authority and St Benedict’s Church.

The Council built new hostel type accommodation in the former garden. (Now known as Magdalene Close)

1974 Mendip District Council took ownership from the Borough Council
1993 Quest established and started to care for almshouses.10 year lease signed between MDC and the Trustees. 
1995 Almshouses restored fully and opened to public in October.

Lease amended to remove “full repairing” responsibilities

1999 Electrical wiring, heaters, fire alarm and smoke detection equipment all checked and approved
2001 March – Mendip Housing took over responsibility for the whole of Magdalene Close (almshouses and the new hostel) from MDC
2003 Lease ends. Mendip Housing investigate selling the almshouses. Quest permitted to stay on a year to year basis at same rent.
2006 Quest Trustees agree that the charity is no longer viable since Revd John Sumner moved away. Friends of St Margaret’s Group form to manage the day to day activity. Friends granted permission by Mendip Housing to keep almshouses open for no charge. 
2007 Mendip Housing approach Bath & Wells Diocese to discuss the future of the almshouses. Subsequently the almshouses were gifted to the Diocese.

2 large Juniper trees are removed by Mendip Housing.

2009 A new charity is incorporated with the aim of showing visitors and local residents the historical and architectural importance of this site.
2011 Extensive restoration work takes place to ensure the site will be preserved for the future. 

St Margaret

Queen consort of Scotland; tenure 1070-1093
Spouse: Malcolm III of Scotland m. 1070

Born: 1045 in Hungary Died: 16 November 1093 at Edinburgh Castle, Scotland
Queen Margaret of Scotland, was an English princess of the House of Wessex. Born in exile in Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the short-ruling and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margaret and her family returned to England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotland following the Norman conquest of England of 1066. Around 1070 Margaret married Malcolm III of Scotland, becoming his queen consort.

She was a pious woman, and among many charitable works she established a ferry across the Firth of Forth for pilgrims travelling to Dunfermline Abbey, which gave the towns of South Queensferry and North Queensferry their names. Margaret was the mother of three kings of Scotland and a queen consort of England.
According to the Life of Saint Margaret, attributed to Turgot of Durham, she died at Edinburgh Castle in 1093, just days after receiving the news of her husband’s death in battle. In 1250 she was canonised by Pope Innocent IV, and her remains were reinterred in a shrine at Dunfermline Abbey.
Margaret’s biographer credits her with having a civilising influence on her husband Malcolm by reading him stories from the Bible. Due to these achievements, she was considered an exemplar of the just ruler, and influenced her son David I. Margaret was a wealthy woman and used her wealth to build chapels associated with the great Abbey’s. Although she had died before this chapel was built, she instructed her son to carry out the work she had planned.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala and sometimes The Magdalene, was one of Jesus’ most celebrated disciples, and the most important female disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of seven demons, [Lu 8:2] [Mk 16:9] sometimes interpreted as referring to complex illnesses. She became Jesus’ close friend and was most prominent during his last days. When Jesus was crucified by the Romans, Mary Magdalene was there supporting him. She stayed with him at the cross after the male disciples (excepting John the Beloved) had fled. She was at his burial.

In all four New Testament Gospels, Mary Magdalene is the first to arrive at Jesus’ tomb, where she encounters an angel who instructs her to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen. She was the first person to see Jesus after his Resurrection, according to both John 20 and Mark 16:9.

Because of her pivotal role in the Resurrection, she became known as the apostle to the apostles. Mary Magdalene is considered by the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches to be a saint, with a feast day of July 22. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrh bearers, the Orthodox equivalent of the Western Three Marys. In apocryphal texts, Mary is portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement whom Jesus loved more than he loved the other disciples. Several Gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary, written in the early 2nd century, see Mary as the special disciple of Jesus who has a deeper understanding of his teachings and is asked to impart this to the other disciples.

The Royal Magdalene Almshouses

Mary Magdalene is often associated with healing and there are several examples of chapels with hospitals that cared for the sick, including lepers. Sometimes they are referred to as Leper Chapels. Examples can be found in Chichester, Ripon and Cambridge.

On this site it is the former hospital that became the almshouses you see today that are named after Mary Magdalene. The chapel is dedicated to Margaret of Scotland.

MAILING LIST

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