If you are ever driving along Spital Road in Maldon Essex, and happen to see the gates to St. Giles Leper Hospital open to welcome visitors, take 10 minutes out of your day to drop in and visit. We paid a visit on a blustery September afternoon, as part of the 2014 Heritage Open Days weekend.
At one time there was a leper hospital on the site, but all that you see today are the remains of the chapel that was built for the inhabitants. It’s just a small ruin now; it’s thought that over the centuries material from the hospital and the chapel have been re-used in many other buildings around the Maldon area.
Looking at the walls of the building you can see evidence of Roman bricks and tiles alongside stone and rubble. Windows and doorways have been blocked in and new ones opened up. The chapel has seen many uses, before it was restored in the 1920’s, it was used by a farmer as a barn.
A visit to the site won’t take very long, but standing in the chapels gardens, surrounded by modern houses and roads, I did find myself wondering why some buildings survive down the centuries being used for many different purposes, whilst others just disappear with no trace left behind. Will those modern houses still standing in 800 years time? A cliched thought maybe – but they probably won’t!