The former workhouse and house of correction in French Street, established in 1630 after John Major left money in his will for the funding of an almshouse, was transformed by the Corporation in 1673 into a hospital for the poor and impotent. It was situated on the west side of French Street immediately south of the building now known as the Medieval Merchant’s House, 58 French Street and on the site of another medieval house, Le Vernicle.

In 1773 when the Southampton Incorporation (a union of parishes for the purposes of the relief of the poor) was formed, St John’s – in spite of the fact that it was described as a spacious building - was sold, the proceeds contributing to the building of a new workhouse near St Mary’s Church.

St John’s was later demolished to make way for the Theatre Royal which opened in 1803.

St John’s Hospital was still in existence in 1801 when Sir Henry Englefield described it as a series of “very old wooden buildings” and remarked on “several doors with carvings in the spandrils of their flat-arched heads”. In a footnote he adds that the buildings had been recently demolished.

See also

Further reading:
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p298-299. (HS/h)
A Walk Through Southampton, by Henry C. Englefield, p56. (HS/h)
‘John Maijor c.1575-1629’, by Elizabeth Rothery, in Southampton Local History Forum Journal No. 5, Spring 1996, p22-27. (HS/h)


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