Founded as a workhouse, this establishment briefly became a rival of the Devon and Exeter Hospital in Southernhay. A Canon of Exeter Cathedral, the Reverend John Bury died on the 5th July 1667, leaving in his will of the 15th June 1667, a bequest of £40 per annum to endow a workhouse.
"...wherein all the poor people of that parish, that shall be able to work, shall be maintained therein, and kept to work, then, and as long as the employment shall be continued." (Jenkins)
A committee was formed in 1671 to acquire a suitable building at the lower end of Paris Street in what is now the Triangle. Progress was slow, and by 1676 it was experiencing financial problems. The project limped on until, as a result of an Act of Parliament in 1698, the Corporation became responsible for its running and plans were put into place to convert the workhouse into a hospital. In 1741, the year that the Devon and Exeter Hospital was planned, the Corporation decided to improve what had become known as, the City Hospital. There was a certain amount of rivalry between the one, supported by the city, and the other supported by the church and a group of country gentlemen.
The City Hospital opened in 1741, with forty beds and £100 annual funding from the Corporation. Physicians who signed up for the City Hospital included Dr John Jago and Dr George Bent. After four years, the City Hospital closed, suffering competition from its more glamorous rival, the Devon and Exeter, and from lack of funds. The building became a tapestry works under the protection of the Prince of Wales, but it did not prove to be viable and it closed. It was then used as a tenement for the poor before, first partial demolition in the 19th Century, and full demolition later.
Detail from Rocque's map of the Old City Hospital.
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