Trinity & Wyggeston’s Hospitals, Leicester
In September 2021, two Leicester-based charities closely linked to the Duchy of Lancaster joined forces, combining 1,200 years of caring for their local community. They now operate as one charity, with a shared senior management team and Board of Trustees, enabling the continuation of their Charitable objectives of supporting older people in the city and county of Leicester.
Founded as Hospitals, from the original meaning of the wording being a place of safety and hospitality, the Charities continue to provide sheltered housing and care facilities for older people of limited means.
Trinity Hospital was founded to “ the honour of God and the glorious Virgin and All Saints and in special Reverence of our Lady” in 1331 by Henry Grosmont, the first Duke of Lancaster, to provide housing for 50 ‘old and infirm persons’ in the Newarke district of Leicester. Between 1354 and 1356, the 2nd Duke of Lancaster established a chantry college here and linked the hospital to the college, with an allowance of one penny a day. Further benefactions were later made by John of Gaunt when he became Duke of Lancaster. Almost 300 years later, in 1614, King James I granted a new Charter and gave the institution the new name of the “Hospital of the Holy Trinity” housing some 100 older people. The buildings were badly damaged during the Civil war following the Siege of Leicester in 1644 and were extensively rebuilt in the late 1700s at the expense of George III. The Hospital received further renovations in 1902.
The original site of the Hospital and College of the Newarke lay within an area formed by an enclosure wall and the only trace of the College is a few arches preserved in the basement of the De Montfort University Hawthorn building which now stands on the site. The Hospital & Chapel still survive and these buildings now form part of the nearby University administration building and is also open to the public on Heritage days . In 1994, the charity moved to a purpose-built housing scheme on the nearby Western Boulevard where it provides residential sheltered housing accommodation for up to 23 elderly residents.
Wyggeston’s Hospital was founded by William Wyggeston the Younger in 1513. It was licensed by King Henry VIII and was originally funded by the income from Wyggeston’s lordships, manors and lands throughout the East Midlands many of which the Charity still owns. The Almshouses were located on a site adjoining St Martin’s Church, now the Cathedral of Leicester and were demolished in the 1860s. A plaque in the Churchyard describes the location and history of the Almshouses. In 1857, the management of the Hospital was vested in twenty Trustees, who were required to erect a new building for 25 residents in a more appropriate location in the Westcotes ward of the city. The Trustees also established a school for 200 boys and 100 girls between the ages of 7 and 17. This led to the foundation of Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys and Wyggeston Grammar School for Girls, which are now combined into a co-educational sixth form college adjacent to University of Leicester. (Wyggestons and Queen Elizabeth College)
The present Almshouses on Hinckley Road was built near the Victorian building in 1966 and expanded in 2021 to include 8 new apartments and 6 cottages around a new community hub named Lancaster House to reflect the charity’s historic links with Duchy. The Hinckley Road site now offers 68 warden assisted flats, each suitable for a couple alongside a 26 room Residential Care Home named after the founder’s wife, Agnes.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is responsible for appointing the Chaplain of Trinity Hospital and the Chaplain (known as the Master) of Wyggeston’s Hospital on behalf of His Majesty The King as Duke of Lancaster. Both organisations also continue to receive an ancient stipend or small annual grant from the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund.