To Live Contented, Private and Refign’d : the Jesus Hospital in Rothwell

Watching football is not – fortunately – all about the game itself.  As the match doesn’t last very long, an afternoon at the football does allow the time to ft in some lunch and a spot of sight-seeing.  Rothwell has many sights to see (yes, really – it does) and one of the pleasantest is the Jesus Hospital (or Jefus Hofpitall, as it announces itself) –

Jefus Hofpitall

This Elizabethan almshouse was originally built in 1586, by local schoolmaster Owen Ragsdale.  Childless himself, he decided that he wanted to make the poor of the parish “his sons and heirs” and allowed 25 old men to live in the almshouse free of rent “for ever”.  Nowadays it is used as sheltered housing.  Although they no longer live rent free, I did glimpse one or two of the residents, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that they had been living there since 1586, as, indeed, who wouldn’t want to?

The Hofpitall has what appeared to be its own vegetable garden –

Vegetable garden

and resident staff who, when I visited, seemed to be working in the garden and – how rare this is these days! – happy in their work.

I was particularly struck by this plaque –

 In case you can’t make it out, it reads –

CHRIST Blefs our Governors prolong their Days,

Who plac’d us here to render heav’n our praife

To live contented, private and refign’d,

Free from life’s toils, and humours of mankind

Pleaf’d with wife AGURS Mediocrity,

Too low for Envy for contempt too high,

What we now have we thankfully poffefs,

Till we exchange for greater happinefs.

(Henry Dorner Principal 1721) 

I confefs myfelf greatly imprefs’d by the fentiments exprefs’d herein, tho’ vex’d to difcover that the meaning of  “Pleaf’d with wife AGURS Mediocrity” efcapes me quite.  Plufs, of courfe, the ufe of Capitalization and italics – I think I shall adopt this ftyle forthwith.