Formerly the Free Chapel of St Edmund the King and Martyr the Hospital was founded by Nicholas Farnham, Bishop of Durham in the thirteenth century. The Statutes and Ordinances for the government of the hospital ordered by the Bishop of Durham in 1811 record that the rector of Gateshead should be master and that there should be 3 ancient brethren to govern with him. In addition, ten younger brethren should benefit from the charity. They were to be single men over the age of 56 of good character, with no more than £20 p a. The hospital chapel was used on weekdays as a school for the moral and religious instruction of poor children.