Almshouses were originally endowed by charity to provide accommodation for the old and infirm who were unable to work and therefore earn a living. Their establishment in England has a long and honourable tradition and they were administered by trusts and were therefore distinct from those which were publicly financed and formerly known as poorhouses or workhouses and later as public assistance institutions.
This town has had a strong tradition of care for the aged, the needy and the handicapped through the benevolence of wealthy people who either lived here or who had connections with the district and Bourne United Charities has been responsible for the twelve alms or bedehouses and a warden's bungalow in West Street since they opened in 1932 to provide homes for elderly inhabitants.
They were built at a cost of £6,000 by Messrs Wright and Son Limited of Lincoln who tendered for the work along with eight other builders and although theirs was not the lowest, the tenders varying by as much as £1,600, it was preferred by the architects who drew up the specifications, Messrs Webster and Trower of Spalding, the time allowed for completion being eight months. Work began in 1931 and was finished within contract.
The capital was provided by BUC mainly by realising investments of property in Leytonstone, London, left to the town under the Harrington bequest, which was sold for a street widening scheme.
The almshouses are situated in an attractive setting just off the main road and ranged on four sides around lawns and flowerbeds and tenancies are much sought after. A bronze plaque has been erected at the front of the almshouses to perpetuate the memory of the local benefactors who contributed money in past centuries for such philanthropy, William Trollope, William Fisher and Robert Harrington, the founders of various charities in the 17th century.
Text and photographs © REX NEEDLE 2010.