Blue plaque unveiled in tribute to unique heritage of Salisbury site

A BLUE plaque has been installed at a Salisbury site credited as being an inspiration for Anthony Trollope’s novel, The Warden.

The plate was unveiled at St Nicholas Hospital on October 25, also commemorating 800 years of service and worship on the site and the building’s unique heritage.

The unveiling ceremony was performed by David Bartlett, chair of the Board of Trustees of St Nicholas, and Dame Rosemary Spencer, patron of the Salisbury Civic Society, supported by Cllr Atiqul Hoque, mayor of Salisbury and the master of St Nicholas Hospital, The Venerable Caroline Baston.

Following the unveiling, guests were invited to a talk in the medieval chapel given by David Bartlett, Caroline Baston and Eric Williams.

David Bartlett spoke about the founding of St Nicholas Hospital by Bishop Bingham in the 13th century, though its origin may have been much earlier.

Bishop Bingham made sure that the hospital appointed a warden in 1244, and declared the purpose of the hospital was to receive, help and maintain the poor of Christ, the weak and the sick.

St Nicholas Hospital in Salisbury

St Nicholas Hospital in Salisbury

The complex was restored by William Butterfield and others between 1850 and 1884 and continues as an almshouse to the present day.

Trollope enthusiast, Eric Williams, representing the Trollope Society, described how the medieval almshouse complex is widely acknowledged to be the inspiration for Hiram’s Hospital in The Warden by Anthony Trollope.

In his autobiography, he wrote (July 1852): “It was then more than 12 months since I had stood for an hour on the little bridge in Salisbury, and had made out to my satisfaction the spot on which Hiram’s Hospital should stand.”

READ MORE: Plaque unveiled to groundbreaking Salisbury doctor Marina Seabright 
READ MORE: Salisbury businesswoman Frances Hale honoured with blue plaque

This is the third blue plaque to be unveiled by the Salisbury Civic Society this year, bringing historical characters, buildings and events to the forefront of Salisbury’s rich history.

Previous plaques honour the ‘groundbreaking’ work of Dr Marina Seabright, for her research in the field of cytogenetics – studying cells to identfy chromosones which could indicate genetic disease or disorder.

And another was unveiled in April, in tribute to Frances Hale, a Salisbury businesswoman.

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