Medieval Leper Hospital Project
The Medieval Leper Hospital probably originally dates from the 12th century with the present building marked as dating from 1632. Reports place a leper hospital on this site from before the establishment of St Johns Priory which makes it a heritage site of immense value. Adjacent to the hospital is St Stephens Church which in a 1764 map was listed as a ruin and the associated graveyard with grave stones dating from the 18th century.
Great care is being taken to conserve the Leper Hospital site while undertaking a programme of defoliage. Advice and support has been provided by a Horticultalist, Archaeologist, Architect and Master Stonemason.
The project will take about 4 years in order to control/eliminate the knotweed and vegetation problem. Our first objective is to clear the site, of invasive weeds and growth while also removing all rubbish. Our next goal is to secure the area and prevent any further damage to this heritage. While costs are relatively low, it required a budget of about E3,000 to cover the costs of rubbish removal, weed killer, equipment and works to make the structures safe to meet our first two goals. Periodic work continues to control the invasive weed issue.
The Leper Hospital before the work
Leper Hospital - An update
The Leper Hospital and adjoining St Stephens Graveyard have been cleared of the bulk of vegetation and rubbish and the area exposed for further investigation and work. A planning process is underway for the development of a shopping centre with hertitage needs included in the conditions. Many thanks to all the volunteers and Trust members who gave their time, donations and equipment to this worthy cause. As a result, this valuable heritage will be preserved for current adn future generations.
We have come a long way since we started work on site bon 28th March 2014.To start, in Spring 2014, following a call by local historians, Waterford Civic Trust sought permission to clear the area of vegetation to prevent further damage to this resident heritage. This permission, with conditions, was provided in March 2015 and work started the same month. We started work on site on Saturday 28th March, recording and documenting items of interest and have continued over several weekends. Volunteers cleared rubbish, needles, trees and foliage to reveal St Stephens Graveyard and the Leper Hospital.
A huge amount of work has been done, with St Stephen's graveyard cleared and the area around the building made accessible. See the article later on this page on the 400 year old laneway. Images below show the clearance achieved. Over 650 volunteer hours have been spent on the project todate A recent gravestone fragment was found dated 1699, can we say 3 centuries old! SEE THE LATEST PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE END OF THE PAGE.
We would welcome donations and any information you may have - you can email .
St Stephens Graveyard, after much of the clearance - mid April 2015
Above picture courtesy of the Waterford History Group
(c) Deise Aerial Photography. Our thanks to Michael Malone for this image. Copies should not be taken as this does not have the original watermark. Above picture shows the growth on the Leper Hospital site
400 Year old lane uncovered - See account below
"As we cleared the vegetation from the Leper Hospital / St. Stephen's Church we discovered a lane between both. The lane runs in an east-west direction and is approx. 60 meters in length by 2-3 meters in width. We are convinced this lane is probably the oldest intact street above ground in Waterford City today. Pictured is the lane today and also I highlighted it on the 1764 map. The lane must have been in place in 1632 when the Leper Hospital was renovated. This would make the street or lane almost 400 years old."
Our thanks to Tommy Deegan for this account and all the volunteers who have worked so hard to protect this valuable heritage site.
Work is underway
Before and After
Two mature trees and three budbulia were growing from the roof level of the Leper Hospital. They have grown through the walls and split some of the stones. They have been carefully removed and will be managed to prevent further damage.
End April 2015
Photograph taken in the 1960s showing the Leper Hospital side, before development and the removal of buildings
An impression of the new Shopping Centre, probably from 2007. The Leper Hospital site is opposite the curved building. Thanks to the Waterford History Group for this image
Photograph taken in June 2014, the total site was covered. (c) Deise Aerial Photography. Our thanks to Michael Malone for this image.
Photograph taken in the 1930s showing the Leper Hospital site. Our thanks to the Waterford History Group
Open the PDF above to read some very interesting historical extracts on the Leper Hospital. Thanks to T Deegan for this contribution.
The gravestone fragment pictured across was uncovered on Monday, 27th April, 2015. What does it say to you?
We think that the inscription reads, 'the body' . Until the remainder of the headstone comes to light, it may remain a mystery as to whose body.