Medieval hospitals served the needs of the sick, the poor and travellers. They were concerned with spiritual wellbeing as well as medical care. Although its role has changed more than once in 800 years, St Mary's is a remarkable surviving example of a 13th Century hospital, still in use today as a Christian foundation which provides a home for up to 36 residents.

The residents are encouraged to live independent lives, and are cared for and supported by the staff consisting of the Warden Team and Custos (Chaplain).  Residents are also encouraged to attend morning prayers in chapel during the week.

The Dears Almshouses

Prior to the start of the 19th century there were six earlier Almshouses sited on the North side of The Hornet but they had become severely dilapidated and unfit for habitation prior to 1802. Martha Dear left a £1000 legacy to refurbish these and made into 4 units and called The Dear’s Almshouses. After 1960 they also became in need of replacement and the Corporation of St. Pancras who were supporting the residents resolved to build four new Almshouses on a new site off Riverside and they were completed in 1970.  The Old Dears, as they had become known, moved into these self-contained units.