Lord Leycester Hospital and Master's Garden
The historic group of buildings that now comprise the Hospital, is now dominated by the ancient Chantry Chapel of St James, built over the West Gate into Warwick by Thomas Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, in the latter half of the 14th Century.
The Guild of St George was created under a license issued by King Richard II on 20th April, 1383, and Thomas Beauchamp granted the benefice of the Chantry Chapel to the Guild on its formation. Sometime between 1386 and 1413, the Guild of the Blessed Virgin, based at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, joined the Guild of St George at the West Gate. To accommodate the resident priests and the guilds, reception, meeting and dining halls were built as well as living quarters. They became known as the United Guilds of Warwick.
In 1546, when they were dispersed by King Henry VIII, the United Guilds were able to save their property from seizure through the admirable foresight of their Master, Thomas Oken, who had it transferred to the Burgesses of Warwick.
In 1571, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leycester acquired the buildings and founded, under charter from Queen Elizabeth I, a Hospital for aged or disabled soldiers and their wives. The Charter set up a corporation consisting of the Master in charge of the Hospital and the twelve resident Brethren, which was endowed with estates producing an income of £200 per year. To accommodate them, parts of the buildings, including the Guildhall itself, were divided into primitive quarters. These arrangements remained unchanged until 1950, when the Guildhall was cleared and the number of Brethren temporarily reduced to five.