For this church:
A hospital was founded at East Stoke (often called Stoke by, or juxta, Newark) before 1135 and was dedicated either to St Leonard or St Anne – or perhaps both (there is some confusion with St Leonard’s Hospital in Newark, but this was certainly a separate establishment). We can be reasonably certain that it was in existence by 1135 as there is mention in the foundation charter of Ralph Dayncourt of that year to a personal gift of 10s per annum, made through the canons of Thurgarton, to the infirm of ‘Stokes’ (ie East Stoke). The hospital was a foundation for the poor, aged, or infirm (established originally to further the worship of God and to sustain the poor), under the care of a Master, and had a chaplain or chaplains. The foundation is generally attributed to the Lyndecortes family, at least by the Commissioners of Henry VIII in 1545-6.
In 1315 licence was granted for the alienation in mortmain to the master of the hospital of St Leonard, Stoke by Newark, by Henry de St Lis of 10½ acres of land in Elston and Stoke, and by William le Venur of 3 acres of land in the same towns, and by Henry, son of John of Sibthorpe of 1 acre 3½ roods, also in the same towns.
In 1332 William de Melton, Archbishop of York, agreed to a reordination of this hospital, as requested by John Chanson, the master, Robert de Bilbrough and Robert de Donham, chaplains, and Simon de Botelsford, clerk, the brethren of the hospital. These officials of the hospital had at that time skilfully managed to increase the endowments by 40 acres of land and 30s in rents in order to pay for the celebrating of sixty masses annually; thirty of these masses were held on the principal feasts, and the other thirty during Lent. In recompense for this trouble the Master, or whoever celebrated these masses, was to receive 5s out of the rent of a certain tenement in East Stoke.
In August 1332 licence was obtained for the alienation of various small plots of land to the hospital of the yearly value of 10s. There was a further alienation of other small plots of the annual value of 13s 4d in 1339, and again in 1347 of others worth 13s 6d a year. Yet more alienation of land was granted by Richard II in 1392, and thus the foundation’s income increased by a further 6 marks (£4) annually; at this time the dedication is recorded as simply ‘St Leonard’.
In 1368 a commission was appointed by Edward III to enquire into allegations that possessions and goods were being wasted, and that the brethren were misbehaving. A similar commission was appointed two years later, with specific instructions that the findings of 1368 should be implemented.
The Valor Ecclesiaticus of 1534 records that that the prior and convent of Thurgarton paid yearly 24s to the master of Stoke Hospital for certain tenements in Newark, and also a further annual sum of 16s in lieu of fifteen cart-loads of wood.
In 1548 the hospital and all its property passed to the king and the net income at this time was £8 13s, plus the income for the support of three poor people and the repair of the property (though only two poor women were resident at the time); it was formally closed in this year.
In about 1550, the hospital was refounded and a commission was appointed, comprising John Hercye, knight, and Hughe Thornehill. Investigations revealed that the hospital held in fee four messuages, nine cottages, and 177 acres of land. The income was revised upwards to £10 19s, and it was stated that the whole of this had gone to the Master, William Burden, who apparently also held ‘other great livings’. The restored foundation was dedicated to Jesus Christ, St Mary the Virgin, and St Leonard Confessor, and comprised a perpetual Master, a priest, and two lay brothers to say masses and carry out works of piety and charity. Richard Hopkyn was appointed chaplain and Master for life, and was assisted by John Barker and Richard Cotes as lay brethren.
The terms of the refoundation of the hospital permitted the purchase and receiving of lands and goods of the crown and others, and that it should be able to hold, purchase, alienate and do all other things as much as the hospital ‘could do in past times’. There was a grant to the master and lay brethren of the house and site of the ‘late hospital’ and of the lands in Stoke, Elston and Cotham just as their predecessors held them.
The hospital continued in use until finally dissolved by Elizabeth I in 1558, when there were two bedehouses in which two poor people dwelt; the remainder of the estate, excluding the bedehouses, was granted to John Mershe and Francis Greneham.