Bridgend 'hospice' dates back to Henry VIII – scientists confirm

By Contributed Item in Local People

Often described as ‘The Hospice’ St John’s House is situated in the conservation area of Newcastle Hill, Bridgend and is a protected Grade ll* listed building. It is the oldest habitable dwelling in the town.

St John’s House Trust in partnership with The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) commissioned a series of samples to be taken for a dendrology examination to be undertaken on samples of wood in the building. Dendrologists are able to count the number of rings in a tree and subsequently assess the age of the wood.

The samples taken from St John’s House show that the wood was felled in circa 1511-12 (1511 was the year Henry Vlll’s flagship Mary Rose was launched) and experts from the RCAHMW confirm that the house must have been built then or soon after.

A spokesperson for RCAHMW said:

“The tree-ring dates now show that St John’s house was built in the early16th century, and it is one of the earliest smaller storeyed houses of hearth-passage house plan. This was clearly a high status house but its history is obscure... [yet] the house is of great significance.”

Ken Hinton, chair of trustees said: “This is wonderful news! The history of St John’s House is something of a mystery with quite a bit of local folklore surrounding it, but no definitive information prior to 1791.

“As described by RCAHMW the house is of greater significance than we originally thought.

“We do not know who built the house or why. Knowing the date it was built will at least set our research boundaries. If anyone can help with this research please let us know.

“The property is open on the last Saturday of every month from 11am – 3pm.

“June is a tense time as we await the results of grant applications. We currently have an appeal asking for donations to go towards the purchase and preservation of the house.

"With the house now being described as of great significance it is even more important that we preserve the building, justifiably described as “a jewel in the crown for Bridgend”.

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