St Mary's Hospital and Chapel
The building is unique in England and only one other smaller version is known to exist at Lubeck in Germany.
The Greyfriars donated the site in the 13th century and the timber framed building consists of six massive oak constructed bays, with a kingpost roof over 40' high with a chapel at the east end. The building was completed by 1292. From this time it has been continually used as a hospital accommodating travellers and the poor who have worshipped at daily services in the chapel.
The original barn like space was converted during the 17th century into eight single bedroom flats and four chimneys were constructed each providing fireplaces for two adjoining flats. Towards the end of the 19th century the two western bays were sadly demolished and the space now serves as an entrance courtyard.
During the mid-twentieth century improvements were made to provide kitchens and bathrooms, with a common room, office and laundry. The number of flats was reduced to five. Following the completion of St Mary's Courtyard in 2003 the medieval hospital underwent a major renovation project which has included the conversion and upgrading of the residents' accommodation into four larger apartments.
The chapel is contemporary with the hospital.
St Mary's Cottages
The four original cottages, which were converted into married quarters early last century, face onto St Martin's Square, with residents' access being from the communal garden on the east side. As the staircases were very awkward for the elderly residents, listed building consent was granted to the Trust to convert and upgrade the accommodation into flats. The work commenced in March 2005 and was completed by August of the same year. The Cottages now offer much more accessible accommodation comprising one first floor and two ground floor flats plus a guest room for residents' visitors.
St Mary's Lodge
The site at the north end of Little London was converted and extended from individual cottages into almshouses during the 1980's. The accommodation consists of twelve flats with lift access facing onto a small courtyard garden to the west side. The Lodge is some 500 metres walking distance from the medieval hospital.
St Mary's Courtyard
The Courtyard comprises six flats, a guest room for residents' visitors, a staff bedsit, office accommodation plus a communal meeting room/residents' lounge, kitchen and laundry. The complex was opened by HRH Prince of Wales in June 2003 and it provides a 'cross roads' or meeting place for residents from nearby flats. It also enables an off street pedestrian access to the medieval hospital and chapel to the south.
A sculpture was considered appropriate as an embellishment to the new building, and a public competition was launched by the Trustees. This resulted in over one hundred applications. The chosen winner, from four short listed contestants, was Helen Sinclair's group of five contemporary figures holding hands in a circle. Her concept was based on the core group of five residents who occupied the hospital during the fifteenth century.
Three additional almshouse flats have been created in more recent years through the conversion and extension of the former Warden and Bailiff's house, the Porter's Lodge and the re-designation of a previous adjacent rented flat in St Martin's Square.
St Mary's Garden
Work commenced in the summer of 2005 to completely redesign the main Hospital garden to enhance the south view of the medieval building. Ground levels were reduced and new planting borders constructed. The new garden was formally opened by HRH Princess Alexandra on 16th May 2006 and continues to mature and be enjoyed by all the residents at St Mary's.
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.
The ambition of The Dears’ Charity and the Corporation of St. Pancras was to build a further four units on the same site and with the support of St. Mary’s Hospital these were completed in 2021. The St. Mary’s Hospital now manages the complex of eight houses.
When the Almshouses in The Hornet were refurbished, the St. Pancras Corporation processed with Christmas Dinners to the residents, led by the City and St. Pancras Mayors, and this continues to this day but nowadays in the form of hampers and gifts.