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Robinson's Guide to Richmond (1833)


Part 8

St. Nicholas's

ST. NICHOLAS'S, A Hall or Mansion House, erected about the time of Elizabeth, or James I. on the site, and probably out of the remains, of the ancient HOSPITAL of ST. NICHOLAS. The date of its original foundation is unknown, it is supposed to have been built by one of the first earls, but in the year 1448, the building and its revenues having both fallen into a ruinous condition, it was repaired and re-endowed by Sir William Ayscough, one of the judges of the court of common pleas. It was inhabited by a few monks of the Benedictine Order, under the government of a master, and combined the various uses of a house of entertainment for wayfaring men and of an infirmary for the sick. There are few remains of the ancient Hospital, but the detached building nearest to the road, is said to have been the Chapel; and there has lately been found the ponderous stone Mortar, in which the brethren of the establishment pounded and mingled those multifarious messes which the physicians of that age dignified with the astounding titles of "Mithridates" and "Catholicons." There is also to be seen, the ancient Bell which summoned the inmates to their devotions. The modern building is in tolerable repair, the wings being both inhabited; but the entrance hall in the centre, with the apartments over it, are in a more neglected condition. There are some remains of ancient moulded cornices and carved wainscoting; and the Grecian Corridor in front, is in a very perfect state. The whole building bears a good deal of resemblance to Fountains Hall, which was erected much about the same time, out of the ruins of the adjoining abbey.

On again entering the town, we pass the sites of the ancient Hospital, or Maison-Dieu, which gives name to the street; and of a Cell, formerly the abode of an anchoress, from whom the rising ground to the right has acquired the nautical name of Anchorage Hill.

A little further, screened from the road by a row of dwarfish elms, is Hill House, the residence of H. W. Yeoman, Esq.; and continuing our route towards the Market-place, we approach THE FRIARY:

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