Great Tosson : The Hospital of St Leonard at Alriburne (Allerdene)
The Hospital of St Leonard lay about 1 km to the north west of Great Tosson village, on the flood plain of the Coquet. Its site is now occupied by Allerdene farm - also known as Tosson Spital - at the east end of the hamlet of Ryehill, but no trace of medieval structures can be seen today. First mentioned in 1281, it was most probably a 13th century foundation and was subsequently acquired by Newminster Abbey.
It frequently figures in deeds relating to the Hepple barony (Dixon 1903, 329; NCH XV (1940), 337, 395; Fraser 1968, 171, no. 397). In 1332 Robert de Hepple held the advowson (i.e. the right to nominate the master when the post became vacant). It was dissolved by Henry VIII. A single large building is shown occupying the site on the relevant 1632 Wellbeck Atlas map, presumably a farm which had been established there following the Dissolution.
Medieval hospitals like St Leonard’s did not offer the comprehensive range of medical treatment and care expected of modern hospitals. Instead they provided hospice care for the sick and elderly, plus accommodation for travellers. The latter was doubtless an especially important function at Alriburne, lying as it did astride the route which led up Coquetdale to connect with several cross border highways, most notably ‘the great road of Ernespeth’ (Clennell Street).