East Anglian Almshouses
by Wickhambrook History Society
February saw the return of Sarah Doig, to talk about the history of almshouses. Beginning with the monks in the Middle Ages, there has been an obligation on Christians to look after the less fortunate, whether they are old, ill or disabled. After the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, Elizabethan gentlemen led the way in providing accommodation and funds for the deserving poor on their estates.
In 1853, the Charity Commission was founded and formalised the running of almshouses, and we were surprised to learn that today there are still 2,600 almshouses and 30,000 dwellings which house 36,000 people.
Sarah showed us slides of all sizes and types of almshouses in East Anglia and told us of some of the donors like Thomas Seckford of Woodbridge and Robert Gardener of Elmswell
Wickhambrook’s pretty almshouses next to the Parish Church were built by Thomas Sparrow for six widows. Today they consist of two houses, refurbished several years ago.
This was a very enjoyable talk on a fascinating subject.
The next meeting is on Tuesday 20th March when Wendy Barnes will talk on ‘The Premier Protestant Printer, John Dye and his connections to Little Bradley’.