Hospital of St John the Baptist Bridgwater Ordinance From Bishop Bekynton's Register Somerset Record Society vol 59 entry 1062
Bishop Jocelyn August 1219
Ordinance and foundation of the hospital of St John Bruggewater
Whereas William Bruer lately founded the said hospital and established clerks as brethren to serve God there, and granted them certain lands, possessions and rents for the sustenance of themselves and Christ's poor, and promised to give and procure for them more, the bishop, at the request of the said William and other friends, and with the assent of the chapters of Bath and Wells, appropriates to the said hospital and brethren the churches of Bruggewater, Northovere and Ilebruer, together with the chapel in the castle of Brugg'; and has thought fit, with the unanimous consent of the said William and the brethren, to lay down the following rules to be observed in the said house for ever, to wit:-
1 The hospital is to be a free, pure and perpetual Domus Dei for Christ's poor only, and is in no wise to be beholden to others, as rich persons.
2 The house and brethren are to have such liberties and customs as any house or brethren of a hospital or similar religious order have, and are to be absolutely quit of all episcopal charges, procurations, expenses and other charges, and also of extraordinary charges.
3 The brethren are to have full power to elect a master or warden from their own body, who, with the concurrence of the brethren, should dispose of all offices whatsoever belonging to the house.
4 The master, with the consent of the brethren, may freely dispose of all things, offices and bailiwicks, internal and external, pertaining to the house
5 The brethren are to wear a clerical habit and garments, such as brethren of a hospital or a similar religious order ought to wear, but with a cross of black or blackish colour impressed on their cloaks and outer garments.
6 They are to keep before their eyes the approved rule, observances and constitutions, and act in accordance with them.
7 They are to cause the parish church of Brugg', which they hold appropriated, to be served by one of themselves and by a suitable secular chaplain.
8 The brother or the secular chaplain who is on duty (in statu) in the chapel of the castle of Bruggewater is to celebrate one mass daily, and when the lord of the castle is there and demands ministration he shall minister in the canonical hours.
9 The master and brethren are to have in full without dispute all proceeds and oblations, wherever in the castle they may be made; and the lord thereof, for the time being, is to provide and maintain the books, vestments, vessels, lights, and all other necessaries for the said chapel.
10 A suitable brother shall, under the direction of the master, have special charge and care of the poor, infirm and needy persons in the infirmary, ministering to them according to the estate and means of the house and his own ability;
11 Two or three women, not noble but suitable and of good conversation and report, who are willing and able to serve the infirm poor, are to be admitted by the master and brethren; and they are to stay by themselves in a cell or chamber in the infirmary near the needy and poor, and sleep there, and be maintained as the master and brethren think fit. They are to be watchful and ready, night and day, to help the infirm and to minister to them in all things, and they are not to turn aside to other acts or services, except the prayers which are due. Provided that not more than two or three women, whether sisters or others, be admitted to the house or maintained there in any case.
12 No lepers, lunatics, or persons having the falling sickness (morbum caduum) or other contagious disease, and no pregnant women, or suckling infants (infantulus lactens), an no intolerable (intolerabilis) persons, even though they be poor and infirm, are to be admitted to the house; and if any such be admitted by mistake, they are to be expelled as soon as possible. And when the other poor and infirm persons have recovered they are to be let out (licentientur) without delay.
13 Inasmuch as it is unworthy and contrary to reason that goods contributed by the faithful of Christ for the sustenance of Christ's poor should be turned to other uses, the bishop forbids that any things, possessions or rents granted for this most pious work, or acquired by the ability, industry or forethought of the master and brethren, be turned to any other uses than those of Christ's poor.
14 The possession of the house are not unduly to be sold, alienated, or perpetually mortgaged (obligentur).
15 No corrodies, liveries, lodgings, pensions or chantries in the house are to be sold, or granted for money or favour.
16 No perpetual charges, whether internal or external, which charge or bind the brethren or house, are to be allowed or granted unless possessions and perpetual rents sufficient to bear the said charges have been granted, assigned and specially bound for the same, and the urgent and manifest advantage of the house demands it, and then only with the assent of the diocesan and the patron of the house for the time being. Anything done in contravention of the above is to be considered utterly void, and anulled altogether by the diocesan and patron without any delay.
17 No rich men or powerful, not even diocesans or ordinaries of the place, or the patrons of the house, or their ministers or bailiffs, are to lodge or stay in the hospital at the charge of the house or brethren; nor are they to burden the house by frequent visits or by lodging their horses or other persons there; nor are they unlawfully to extort or carry off any goods from the brethren of the house, or inflict, or procure to be inflicted, any damage or hardship on them, or to strive to injure them under any pretext, on pain of anathema and the divine vengeance. The diocesans and patrons are to be the special conservators and protectors of these ordinances, and helpers of the house and brethren, maintaining all and singular the premises, promptly restoring to its due estate anything done in contravention thereof as soon as it is brought to their notice, and punishing and repressing by all means any persons who are contentious, contemptuous, or rebellious in regard to these ordinances.
Bishop Joscelin, together with William Bruere, founder of the hospital, ratifies and approves the above with the consent of the chapter of Wells; and at the special request of the master and brethren and other friends his seal and the seal of the said William are alternately appended to this indented or divided writing.