Grantham’s Pest House – South Kesteven’s Newest Listed Building

White Cottage – the former Grantham Pest House (photo: Courtesy of Grantham Civic Society)

 A historic Grantham cottage that was once home to plague victims is to be preserved as a Grade II Listed Building after being highlighted by South Kesteven District Council.

 

The Pest House on Manthorpe Road, one of only six of its kind in England, was built in 1584 to isolate people who suffered from serious illnesses.

The SKDC application for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to list the property was supported by local historians from Grantham Civic Society.

A spokesperson for the Council said: “This is good news as it means any alteration would need special permission. As it was, it could even have been demolished and only the normal planning regulations would apply.

Ruth Crook of Grantham Civic Society explains the significance of the building:

In 1584 a Pest House was built to isolate those who succumbed to serious infectious illnesses such as plague. The Pest House allotment was leased by the Aldermen and Burgesses of Grantham.  The lease states that:

‘if it shall happen or chance hereafter…the Town and Borough…to be visited with the plague called the pestilence or any other smiting disease or contagious sickness whereby it shall be thought good to divide the infected people from the whole…better safeguard of the said Town…upon two days warning…all the tenants and dwellers within the said messuage or house to depart…to permit and suffer the infected or visited people to enter into the house…’

This lease tells us that tenants lived in the Pest House, shown on a later map as a single dwelling with a small storage building at the back.  If anyone became ill, they would have to leave their home to make way for plague victims.  It is unclear where the tenants stayed during this time, or whether they took their belongings with them.

The present building contains some stone walling which dates from the original Pest House. It was largely rebuilt in the late eighteenth century and also has other later additions. It is shown on early maps and on 19th century census returns.  It is only one of six left in the country, which contains original features.

Grantham Civic Society is pleased that this building has been given Grade II status and that we were able to assist in the process to preserve it, as part of the town’s heritage.

She added:
“It is now another part of Grantham which is being protected for future generations.”

“Any effort to preserve the heritage of Grantham is very good news. So much of old Grantham has disappeared over the years, during Victorian times and then with 1960s development. The Civic Society motto is to preserve the good in the old and encourage the good in the new.”

It was built in the late 16th century, largely rebuilt in 1789-90, and altered and extended as a private dwelling around 1880.

It has been Grade II listed because of its architectural interest as a well-preserved example of a late-16th century Pest House (or pestilence house), and due to historic interest, being a rare surviving example of this type of building.

The List entry for White Cottage, former Pest House, 60 Manthorpe Road, Grantham, together with a map, is published on the National Heritage List for England, and available here.