Master’s House and St Michael’s Chapel, Saltisford, Warwick

St Michael’s Chapel

This potential project site contains two (15th / 16th century) grade II* listed buildings at risk on the site of a medieval leper hospital (scheduled ancient monument) and has featured on every edition of the Historic England Heritage at Risk Register.

The present focus of the hospital complex is formed by the upstanding chapel, a single cell stone building of 15th century date, and a late 15th or early 16th century timber-framed building, known as the Master’s House, situated to the north of the chapel. Although partially rebuilt, the buildings are contemporary with the later medieval development of the site. The standing buildings are considered to overlie the remains of earlier medieval hospital buildings which extend across the whole of the site.

The first actual reference to the leper hospital is in 1275, but by 1540 it was said to be `much in ruin’. By 1545 it was leased to a layman, Richard Fisher, who distributed alms to the poor and gave lodging to four poor men. The last priest recorded as warden took office in 1557. The Chapel and Master’s house were converted to cottages in the 17th-18th centuries and finally became uninhabitable by the mid-20th century.

The Master’s House in the 1950s

A Viability Appraisal was commissioned by the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust in association with Warwick District Council, by a grant from the Architectural Heritage Fund, in 2018 to investigate the options to secure a future for the St Michael’s Chapel & Master’s House buildings. Proposals to create assisted living accommodation at this location failed to secure the necessary funding to proceed and a revised scheme to convert the historic buildings to provide affordable housing supplemented by new-build on land to the north has now been developed working alongside Platform Housing. There is a considerable conservation deficit which needs to be bridged by external funding.Grants have been secured from Warwick District Council and the Architectural Heritage Fund, with Historic England willing to consider an application in due course. Thanks to this funding and partnership support, research data and reports have been obtained and design work has been prepared to the point of being ready to support applications for statutory consents.

The Master’s House prior to urgent works

Urgent Works were undertaken by Warwick District Council in 2019 to keep the building weatherproof and maintain its structural stability, including protective scaffolding. Negotiations for WMHBT to acquire the site have resumed after a break during which agents acting for WMHBT have re-assessed the valuation taking into account the impact of Covid-19 on the property market.

Interior of the Master’s House