The History of Dr Milley’s Hospital

Doctor Milley’s Hospital was originally built and endowed in1424 by William Heyworth, Bishop of Lichfield & Coventry. He gave the site in Beacon Street on condition a rose was given to the Bishop on the nativity of St. John the Baptist if demanded, (24th June). It is not known when this ceased but the custom was revised in 1987. The Sacrist of the Cathedral was appointed Master of the Hospital.

The Hospital takes its name from Thomas Milley, a Canon residentiary of Lichfield Cathedral, who re-endowed and probably rebuilt the Hospital in 1502-1504. At that time there was provision for 15 almswomen and the Trustees were appointed to look after the endowments.

Since 1893 the Charity has been governed by the Schemes of the Charity Commissioners.

In 1950 the Hospital was found to be in a weakened condition owing to the heavy traffic passing on Beacon Street and a substantial rebuilding scheme was carried out.

Further refurbishment took place in the 1960s.

In the mid 1980s extensive work was carried out, including an extension to bring the standard of accommodation up to modern standards. This provided for 6 one bedroom flats (bedroom, sitting room, bathroom & kitchen) and 4 flatlets (bed/sitting room, bathroom & kitchen). There is also a Chapel, laundry room, and communal lounge/conservatory. There is also a large private garden at the rear. The accommodation is open to women of all ages with in need of accommodation, e.g. low income.

Image of Hospital

Image of Hospital Garden

According to the 2002 report by English Heritage on the tree-ring dating of the building, parts of the Hospital are thought to have been erected in1652. The building of Thomas Milley, in all probability, was demolished during the Civil War.

A body of Trustees, who give their services voluntarily, administers the Charity. The day to day administration is carried out by the Administrator, and there is a resident Steward.

‘For a number of years, representatives of Dr Milley’s Hospital have helped to count the street collection following the Bower. A donation is received from the Bower Committee, which is presented by the Bower Queen to the Chairman when they visit Milley’s later in the year. The donation is earmarked for the direct benefit of the residents. Milley’s is a charity which provides affordable accommodation to ladies of all ages in need.’

Image of Bower Queen presenting cheque to Chairman

Lichfield Conduit Lands Trust

The trust was formed on 3rd January 1545 by Hector Beane, who was the guild master of the old religious Guild of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist which had been founded during the reign of Richard II in 1397 and which in course of time, as the local government in Lichfield, has acquired considerable areas of land in and around the City. The crown was suppressing these guilds and seizing their property – the Trust was formed as a device to protect these assets. The main purpose of the Trust was to be the provision of fresh water to the citizens of Lichfield and also to carry out improvements for the wellbeing of the citizens.

Besides the provision of water to the City, which continued up until the 1950s, many grand schemes were undertaken, such as the paving and lighting in the City. The Guildhall was substantially rebuilt, the Grammar School (now King Edward VI) was built at Borrowcop, the clock tower now in the Friary gardens was provided, the original public swimming baths at Leomansley were built, as was an art school, a market hall and the museum grounds were provided as a recreational area.

In recent years bequests have helped pave the market square, assisted with the setting up of St. Mary’s as a centre for the community, and has also given assistance to the Cathedral and St. Giles Hospice. Amongst other organisations which have benefited have been school within the City, Victoria Hospital, Lichfield Festival, local amateur theatre and sport, the Garrick Theatre, Guides, Scouts, Youth Clubs and many church and community projects and of course the Lichfield Greenhill bower over many years, the Trust recently making a substantial contribution to the new Bower storage facilities.

The Conduit Lands Trust is some 462 years old and is still serving the community of the City, there are twelve trustees (correctly called feoffes) appointed from both the community and local government, and membership of the trust is still regarded by the citizens of the City as a high watermark of citizenship. The trust has a long and distinguished history of helping individuals and organisations within the City of Lichfield.

John Shaw