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St John's Farm, 1935 (photo L Cobbett) (Cambridgeshire Collection)

St John’s Farm, Ely

History of St John's Farm

Listed Building

The present farm known as St John’s is thought to occupy the site of the Hospital of St Mary Magdelene, first recorded in 1225 when it was gifted the church at Littleport. In about 1251 this hospital was merged with a second, St John the Baptist, by Bishop Hugh Northwold. This then became the Hospital of St John the Baptist and St Mary Magdelene. The bishop also drew up a simple rule for communal living: the hospital was to be placed under the care of a Master, and was to have no more than 13 brethren, both lay and clerical. The Master was allowed a room of his own, but all others were to share a single dormitory, and all, including the Master, were to eat together in one refectory.

St John’s Farm, Ely OS map circa 1900

Building: two-storey service building representing three bays of the infirmary hall to the Hospital of Mary Magdelene first recorded in 1225. In 1251 it merged with the Hospital of St John the Baptist to become the Hospital of St John the Baptist and St Mary Magdelene. The building currently (as correct in 2016) forms part of St Johns Farm, Ely.

The site was investigated by Louis Cobbett in 1934.


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