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About Almshouses

Almshouses have existed sometimes for hundreds of years. Small groups of almshouses exist all over the country. They are often immediately recognisable as a row of small cottages, and are very often designed for single people. They were given to the locality by people of some wealth who wanted to do something for the poor of the parish or for specific people as poor widows to save them from going to the workhouse upon bereavement of their partner. 

Groups of trustees were appointed to look after each property and to manage them in accordance with the wishes of the original benefactor. They all exist though as charities and abide by the rules as set for charities by the Charity Commission and of the National Almshouse Association.

Over time, trustees have sometimes had to modify the purpose of the almshouse charity to ensure it is still relevant to modern times. The underlying purpose of almshouse charities though remains one of a common principle, to provide homes for people in need of housing, although each almshouse charity may give priority to certain categories of people.  

No longer are the people in almshouse properties single and elderly, as trustees have gradually been able to modify their founder's wishes and help other categories of people in need of housing. Some almshouse charities also manage Relief in Need funds and other assets which can be used as the name suggests for providing small grants to help people in financial difficulty.

Whilst some almshouses may be old buildings and present an on-going maintenance challenge for the trustees, many almshouses have been improved to bring them up to a modern standard. Indeed, some almshouses are new as additional money has been raised through various means to provide moderrn homes fit for purpose. 

One thing that remains important to the trustees of almshouse charities, is that the property always belongs to the charity, in perpetuity, and that people living in those properties do not have any right to buy. Thus, almshouses will remain homes for people in need of housing for ever.

For a leaflet about Almshouses, see in the Document Library - click here