Petronella De Cham

From Historical Hastings

The benefactor who, by means of a donation of five acres of land, enabled the first hospital in the town to be formed. De Cham Road is named after her. The traditional tale is that the gift was in the nature of an offering of thanks for the rescue of her son at sea by local Fishermen. The gift was recorded as a charter dated the 'Sunday in the Feast of St Benedict the Abbot in the 22nd year of King Edward, son of Henry' - the 21st of March 1294. The charter was witnessed by William de Walderne, the bailiff of Hastings at the time.[1] Brett summarised the charter in more modern English in his Mansucript Histories thus:-

“Let men, present and future, know that I, Petronilla De Cham, of Hasting, in lawful power of my widowhood, have given by my present deed, and have confirmed to the Brothers and Sisters of the “Hospital of St Mary Magdalene 5 acres of my land in the parish of St. Margaret, adjoining the land of William de Walderne and of the said Brothers and Sisters on the eastern part, that of Gilbert of Gensing on the western part, my own land on the southern part, and the land of the Brothers and Sisters on the northern part, in perpetual alms for the salvation of my soul and the souls of Godard, Matilda, Robert, William, Richard and Henry, and for the souls of my heirs, relations and friends, the aforesaid 5 acres of land, with the precincts, to be held by the Brothers and Sisters for ever. And the said Brothers and Sisters have granted for themselves and successors that I, Lady Petronilla, and all the aforenamed shall be participators in the masses, vigils and prayers in the said Hospital for ever. And that this my gift may have perpetual confirmation, I have strengthened this deed with the impression of my own seal; and for the greater faith in the promises I have procured for this deed the seal of the King’s Commonalty of the illustrious Barony of Hastings, in full Hundred thereof, held on Sunday, the feast of St Benedict, in the twenty-second year of the reign of King Edward, with these as witnesses — William of Waldern, Bailiff of Hasting, Henry de Meleward, and many others."

It should be noted that the widow De Cham's given name has been given a number of spellings, Petronilla also appearing, although Petronella appears to be the most commonly used.