St John’s Hospital was founded around 1180, by Bishop Reginald Fitz Jocelin and is among the oldest almshouses in England. The current building was erected in 1716 and has been designated as a Grade I listed building.
The ‘hospital of the baths’ was built beside the hot springs of the Cross Bath, for their health giving properties and to provide shelter for the poor infirm. It was placed under the control of Bath Cathedral Priory which became Bath Abbey. One of the key benefactors was Canon William of Wheathampstead, who gave substantial areas of land to support the hospital.
During the Dissolution of the monasteries it managed to remain independent and attempts by William Crouch to take it into private property were defeated after the city fathers petitioned Queen Elizabeth I. During the rest of the Elizabethan era the almshouse provided lodgings for wealthy visitors visiting the spa.
In 1853, the future patronage of St John’s Hospital was vested in the Bath Municipal Charity Trustees by order in Chancery and in 1894 The Magdalen Chapel came under their auspices.