Keys to the Past

Glossary

Lepers

Lepers are people who suffer from leprosy, a disease that affects the skin and nerves. People could stub their toes - but not feel anything. In the Medieval period the word leprosy was used to mean a number of unpleasant skin diseases thought to be punishments from God. These diseases were often very infectious so lepers were made to live away from healthy people. Both secular and spiritual authorities founded special leper hospitals in which lepers could be looked after, on the outskirts, beyond any town walls, of any town or in remote areas - though would probably look after anybody ill. An example of a leper hospital is that at Sherburn, Durham.

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