In 1392 John de Plumptre, a merchant of the staple of Calais who traded mainly in wool and four times mayor of Nottingham, was granted a licence by King Richard II to found and endow a hospital or house of God for two chaplains and thirteen poor widows ‘bent by old age and depressed by poverty.’
The hospital was more of an almshouse than a hospital and dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was endowed with 13 properties around the town of Nottingham. The priest was instructed to pray for John, his wife Emma, the king, the people of Nottingham, and all the Christian dead — especially those who gave to the hospital.
In 1414 the number of widows was reduced to seven and John gave the hospital his house, an imposing residence with gardens stretching down to St. Peter’s. The Flying Horse Hotel now occupies the site. The hospital was one of the few charities to escape the dissolution by Edward VI. in 1547 when the endowments of nearly all charitable institutions were swept away.
The hospital was almost in a state of ruin when it was renovated by Huntingdon Plumptre, a physick, in 1650. The good doctor raised the rents of the hospital’s properties which enabled the charity to give the widows an allowance of five shillings per month with an additional sixpence at New Year. In 1753 the hospital was extended by John Plumptre, presumably the father of the first John Plumptre of Fredville, and the 13 widows’ allowance was increased to £13 10s; a gown; and a tonne of coal annually with an additional sixpence at New Year.
The Plumptre family continued to maintain the charity after they moved to Kent and in August of 1823 a new hospital was built on the site of the old one with the first stone being laid by the Rev. Charles Thomas Plumptre, Rector of Claypole in Lincolnshire on behalf of his father, “John Plumptre, of Fredville, in the county of Kent, Esq., the Master or Guardian of the said Hospital. And a descendant of the Founder”.
The commemorative stone shown above reads:-
Founded and endowed for the support of a Master, a priest, and thirteen poor Widows,
By John de Plumptre, A.D. 1392.
Repaired by Huntingdon Plumptre, Esq., 1650
By John Plumptre, Esq., A.D. 1751
By John Plumptre, his son, A.D. 1753.
First stone of the present Hospital was laid on the 1st of August, A.D. 1823,
By the Rev. Charles Thomas Plumptre, Rector of Claypole,
In Lincolnshire, on behalf of his father, John Plumptre, of Fredville,
In the county of Kent, Esq., the Master or Guardian of the said Hospital,
And a descendant of the Founder.
When John Pembleton Plumptre of Fredville died in 1864, the absence of a male heir meant that Fredville and other property was inherited by his nephew, Charles John Plumptre, the eldest son of his brother, the Reverend Charles Plumptre of Claypole.
The charity built a second set of almshouses was built in Canal Street in 1956. By 1991 the charity was unable to maintain the hospital building and the residents were moved to other almshouses, 599 years after the founding of the charity, and the building remained empty until it was taken over by the Royal National Institute for the Blind in 2001.
The charity, with family members as trustees, continues to distribute alms to the present day and has some thirty out-pensioners.
For a comprehensive history of the Plumptre Hospital in Nottingham I highly recommend