Although the Hospital of St Cross is a private foundation, members of the public are welcome to visit, either individually or in groups (for which please see Group Visits). Tickets are acquired at the Porter’s Lodge under the arch. Please also see Opening Times.
In the inner quad visitors may enter the Church, the Brethren’s Hall and the Old Kitchen and from across the lawn can view the exterior of the Brother’s quarters. By walking through the Tudor ambulatory, they may visit the Master’s Garden, which also incorporates the Compton Garden.
The Brethren’s Hall is where, for several centuries, the Brothers gathered for meals. Most of the original features can still be seen today: the central hearth where a charcoal fire used to burn; the stairs leading up to the Master’s lodging; the raised dais where he took his meals and the fine musician’s gallery. The Hall is still used by the Master and Brothers of St Cross to celebrate feast days and special occasions.
The Victorian Old Kitchen, meat room and cellar are also open for public viewing.
The Hospital of St Cross is famous for its unique and ancient tradition of providing the Wayfarer’s Dole. This is a horn of beer and a morsel of bread given to any visitor who requests it. The custom was founded by a monk from Cluny in France, whose holy order always gave bread and wine to travellers. The tradition still continues today. Visitors may request the Dole at the Porter’s Lodge as they depart.
At the Lodge is also located the shop, selling attractive and original gifts, often in a medieval style, as well as cards and books.
In the outer quad there is a Tea Room in the Hundred Men’s Hall. In mediaeval times up to a hundred poor men from the surrounding area were given food here each day. In fine weather visitors can also take tea and coffee at tables on the lawn. In the spirit of the charity, the tea room is staffed by volunteers, continuing a long tradition of local good will towards the Hospital.