St Catherine’s Hospital
In 1316 Symond Potyn at the Crown Inn, Rochester, endowed the Hospital of St. Catherine to provide for people suffering from leprosy and other such diseases. It was built at the bottom of Star Hill in the High Street opposite the Crown Court.
At the time it was built the hospital was outside the city. This was to keep what was then considered to be an infectious disease away from the population.
Finance for the hospital was provided primarily from rents of property. The hospital and its finances were controlled by the Vicar of St. Nicholas, the heirs of Symond Potyn, John St. Denys and heirs of Robert Bayley (later known as the Mayor of Rochester). The day to day management was in the hands of a prior.
The rules of the hospital included:
No resident to be absent from 'the hospital after the sun goes down’.
No resident to haunt the taverns. If a drink was wanted it was to be brought into the hospital.
No resident to be argumentative or use ribald language.
At a certain hour of the morning and evening the residents were to pray for the Sovereign and all the realm of England and for Simon Potyn while alive and for his soul when dead.
If any resident should cause trouble in the City the Vicar of St. Nicholas and twelve good men of Eastgate were to complain to the Prior and the resident shall be put out of the hospital for ever without them taking anything but their clothing.
After the Reformation the only change was the cessation of the religious observances.
Towards the end of the 17th century the building was in a very bad state of repair and the revenue much reduced. It seems that the Mayor and Vicar of St. Nicholas had been letting the leases for small sums and for long periods. A Commission of Enquiry was held at the Bull Hotel on 29th January 1704 when malpractice was proved. All was set right and £100 was spent on repairing the building. In 1715 Alderman Bailey bequeathed £300 to be put in trust for the residents of St. Catherine’s from which they each received a dividend.
The existing building was erected in 1805 at the top of Star Hill "in a more airey situation".