There have been three sets of almshouses in Alcester.
These were founded in 1659 by John Bridges the father of Brook Bridges (who later left money to the almshouses) and probably brother-in-law to the founder of the Bleachfield almshouses in Alcester. There were four small units in a row in Priory Lane, with one room upstairs and one downstairs for each inhabitant. Originally, they were for deserving widows over 50 of good character. The residents received a pension of £2 a year in the 1850s and each had a small back garden.1 These almshouses were sometimes referred to as the Bridges Almshouses. The buildings were still inhabited in the late 1960s but were demolished in the second half of the 20th century.
These were founded by George Ingram in 1680; he was the uncle of Brook Bridges (who left money to the almshouses) and probably brother-in-law to the founder of the Priory Almshouses. The buildings were in Bleachfield Street and similar in size to the Priory almshouses. Originally, they were for four poor unmarried men or women over 50, but the ‘unmarried’ rule was later abandoned. The residents received a pension of £1 a year in the 1830s, which had risen to 4s a week by 1880. They had small back gardens containing a shared well with a pump.2 The buildings were demolished in April 1960 and the photograph shows the back of the almshouses in a dilapidated state before this event.
These were founded in 1894 by William Smallwood (pictured); he was a butcher and auctioneer who left £4K to build and endow six almshouses for local people with a preference for tradesmen and their widows in reduced circumstances. The trustees had discretion to provide support with water, gas, fuel, medical or funeral expenses. The 1901 census shows that the residents were mostly old men and women – though one daughter was living with her 79-year-old father. The only occupation given was 69-year-old music teacher Mary Hills.3 The building still exists on the Birmingham Road: it provides housing for the elderly and is run by the Alcester United Almshouse Charity.
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1 White, F. & Co., History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Warwickshire, Sheffield 1850, p. 746.
2 Charity Commissioners’ Reports for Warwickshire, 1815-35, p. 317.
3 1901 Census RG13/2944, f. 45, p. 1.