Three Former Small Almshouses

Photo:Fig. 1

Fig. 1

G.P.McSweeney

Photo:Fig.2. O.S. 1:500 (1878)

Fig.2. O.S. 1:500 (1878)

Buildings on the margins of society
By Gerard McSweeney

Some almshouses, such as Pemberton's and the Duchess of Marlborough's, still flourish in St Albans. Others have disappeared, including Clarke’s and Masterman’s. From deeds and maps, the site of a former group of three more has recently been identified as that now (2010) occupied by the northern half of NatWest Bank [Fig.1], No.10 St Peter’s St. (No. 12 in 1878) [Fig.2].

They were bequeathed to St Peter’s parish in 1509 and later modified (1652). They are of interest in that the quantity of materials used for their rebuilding is known, giving an indication of the small size of a one-roomed house considered suitable for an elderly widow. This appears to be about 110 sq.ft., based on a 10ft frontage.

The donor, William Skipwith, had given "three tenements adjoining my gate (later described as his 'mansion')". Not only did this establish the position of this other early property but also the owner, a rare occurrence in St. Albans. It confirmed the common finding that, at this time, the houses of the higher classes could be found adjoining much humbler dwellings.

For details of the research involved see G. P. McSweeney, Herts Archaeology & History, Vol 16, pp 71-4 (2009)

This page was added by Gerard McSweeney on 27/11/2010.

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