Few people who live in the Irby / Pensby area could know that they live near the site of an ancient
Leper House. During the period from 1000 to 1400ad England experienced a major growth in
population, with strong growth in towns, cathedral building and a surge of activity in religion, trade
and education. The activity and population increase was accompanied by an outbreak of leprosy, and
there were enough lepers on Wirral to warrant the founding of two Leper Hospitals, the other being
How many pupils at two fine Wirral schools, Pensby boys and Pensby Girls, know that their just a few
fields away from a Leper Colony.
The place names of Cheshire say that in a field in a field called Green Heys there was an old ditch
where the Leper House stood on the boundary between Irby and Thurstaston. The name Green Heys
exists today in the form of a road, which is most likely named from it. Perhaps the location of the
Leper House is in the fields behind Dawlish Road. Click on the image left, to see an aerial view of
The puzzling fact about this location is that at the end of Dawlish Road, where the footpath return to
the Anchor Pub, there is an ancient well called the Well of Londymere. Having a well and a Leper
House so close seems extremely strange as Lepers were kept away from contact with non infected
people and they were made to have there own well.
In the times that Leprosy flourished it was considered an extremely filthy disease and the victims
were looked down upon and ill treated by many. At that time the population thought that Leprosy
was contracted through sex, and therefore the disease carried with it a heavy stigma, it was much
like AIDS today. The disease had many effect upon the victim. Nausea and vomiting were frequent.
The victims eyes blackened and the skin developed lumps and open wounds. The victims nose begins
to turn up and the teeth protrude. For this reason many Lepers wore long clothing and hoods to
cover their features. Most of the time this disease constitutes a chronic and crippling condition but it
is not directly responsible for the death of the patient.
The Leper House would have run much like a society today in small farm stead. They were taught to
grow corn, farm animals and be self sufficient. They were given medical supplies to treat the sick and
stem the flow of further infection. Sometimes if the community of Lepers grew they village would have
a masters house and a small chapel with graveyard. There were over 350 Leper villages known
across the UK and probably some that we don’t know about.
Despite extensive research the exact site of the Irby Leper house is still unknown however a
description exists that the boundary of the villages of Thurstaston and Irby commenced at the old
trench where formely had stood a leper hospital, proceeding from thence to a large fountain walled in
with stones called "Lyndmere" which was free to the tennants of both manors and from there to a
hillock called "Knukyn".
Click here to see the affects of Leprosy. Please note that people of a nervous disposition should not
view these as they are not very pleasant.