Sherburn House Charity operates a 60 bed Residential Care Home for older people
Sherburn House Charity operates a 60 bed Residential Care Home for older people Image: Sherburn House Charity
Sherburn Hospital Church, Aquatint
Sherburn Hospital Church, Aquatint Image: Wellcome Images (CC BY 4.0)
Sherburn House
Sherburn House Image: Peter Gawthrop, Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Sherburn House
Sherburn House Image: Alan Fearon, Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Gatehouse at Sherburn Hospital
The Gatehouse at Sherburn Hospital Image: Peter Robinson, Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Charity Details

Full Name: Christ’s Hospital in Sherburn Durham  
Field: Community Services
Founded: 1181
Headquarters: Durham, DH1 2SE
Charity No: 217652

History and Activities

Sherburn House was founded over 800 years ago by the Prince Bishop of Durham, Hugh du Puiset (1125-1195), great-grandson of William the Conqueror. Du Puiset was known as ‘the builder’. He was instrumental in gaining city status for Durham in 1179, he built Newcastle’s new castle in 1172, and he established hospitals in the region to care for the sick.

Sherburn House was originally a leper hospital known as Christ’s Hospital in Sherburn. It was built to provide a home for leprous monks and nuns, catering for up to 65 people. In 1535, its income was recorded as £142, the equivalent of just over £115,000 in today’s money. By 1434, however, the decline of leprosy had redefined the hospital. A new constitution introduced by Bishop Thomas Langley (1363-1437) opened up the hospital to support elderly people in distressing circumstances. This mission has continued.

The current house, Beddell House, a beautiful grade II early Victorian gothic infirmary, is located just 2 miles outside Durham and provides residential care for 60 people. The building provides permanent and respite care for elderly residents of the North East, set in 15 acres of land in a secluded valley with its own 12th-century chapel. The charity also provides 19 sheltered accommodation units, a small number of independent living units, and daycare service. A major “dementia friendly” refurbishment of Beddell House, costing in excess of £5 million, is about to get underway.

In addition to providing care for the elderly, the Sherburn House Charity uses its surplus funds to provide community grants. Grants are made up to £5,000 and any voluntary organisation, registered charity or social enterprise can apply as long as they tackle hardship and distress between the Rivers Tweed and Tees. The charity also provides individual grants of up to £300 to tackle immediate hardship, particularly for families with children under 16 years old. In 2016/17, the charity made 78 organizational grants worth £186,431 in total, and 342 individual grants totalling £56,563.

There is no better example than Sherburn House of how generosity in the past can live on in the present and extend into the future. The charity created by Hugh du Puiset in 1181 remains in rude financial health thanks to the magnitude of its original endowment and the wise stewardship over centuries of its trustees.

Vital Statistics (year to 31/03/2017)

Total Income:  
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Sherburn House. (2018). History of Sherburn House, Available here (Accessed: 02/08/2018).

Lomas, R. (2009). An encyclopaedia of North East England, Edinburgh: Birlinn Ltd, Pp. 77, 252, 288.

Beddell House. Available here (Accessed: 02/08/2018).

Barron, P. (2017) Charity partnership will boost care of the elderly. Available here (Accessed: 02/08/2018).