Isn't that a wonderful expression?
At first I wondered if it was some sort of weird Medieval idea that poverty was enobling, but no, it actually means an almshouse for penniless nobles. In truth though, the Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty, just outside the city of Winchester in England, was first and foremost a charity for the poor, with the almshouse for nobles a later thought. If you want to be cynical, you could say it was primarily a way of ensuring one's own entry to heaven through charitable works, but I prefer to think of it as something intrinsically humane, creating a place of dignity and peace for the less fortunate, termed "brethren".
And, oh yes, maintaining to this day the tradition of the dole to passing travellers: free food and a drink, the "Wayfarer's Dole" -- now a tiny bit of bread and a tumbler of beer.
We paid for afternoon tea (cake cooked by one of the brothers) instead.
And yes, this is all part of research for a future novel.
|Entrance gate Beaufort Tower mid 15th C.|
|The reverse side of Beaufort Tower|
The church, the brethren's quarters, the kitchens and dining hall, the ambulatory and the tower, all form the sides around a grassed quadrangle.
|Looking towards the church 1150-1400|
|The Ambulatory 1492-1675 (gallery between Master's Quarters & church)|
|Brethren's apartments 1439-47|
|Brethren's apartments, Brethren's Hall, Beaufort's Tower|