The Hospital of God was founded by Robert de Stichell, the Bishop of Durham in 1273 to care for poor and elderly people. King Henry III had obtained the Manor of Greatham from Simon de Montfort following his defeat at the battle of Evesham in 1265. Robert de Stichell then made and won a legal claim for the land on the basis that as Crown Palatine he had the right to all land plundered or gained within his royal franchise as Bishop of Durham.
Having obtained possession of the Manor of Greatham the Bishop built the first Hospital - a place of shelter and hospitality - for five priests and forty poor lay men. He installed a Master to care for them and dedicated the Hospital to the Honour of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Cuthbert.
In 1353 it is recorded that the Master would grant to each Brethren for life, seven white loaves and seven pitchers of ale weekly, a "decent chamber" to live in, coal for heating and candles.
The charity was refounded by King James I in 1610 and the assets of the charity were vested in a corporation known as the Master and Brethren of the Hospital of God at Greatham, which exists to this day.
Over the following centuries the Hospital went through a number of episodes of dilapidation and rebuilding with various buildings being erected and falling into disuse.
In 1761 a sister charity, the Dormer Parkhurst Almshouses, was founded by the Master of the same name and for the first time women could be cared for. This charity, at first separate, is now part of the Hospital of God..
The charity is now governed by a board of eleven Trustees on behalf of the corporation in accordance with the provisions of the scheme of the Charity Commission dated 27th June 2002 and the charity became incorporated as a company in 2008. Trustees meet every two months and there are sub committees that deal with finance, property, grant making and new buildings.
The Director is responsible for the day to day management of the charity.
The charity still owns a significant amount of property in the village of Greatham and over the years has invested in many projects that have enhanced the local environment.
The Hospital of God has a Residential Care Home, Nursing Home and Day Centres together with 110 almshouses (homes for older people) in Greatham, Norton and Stockton-on-Tees. We also give grants to voluntary organisations.
The Hospital of God is now embarking upon a major redevelopment of its facilities at Greatham. This reflects a continuation of the tradition of caring that has existed for the last 730 years and will ensure that the charity is able to continue its work in the future.