The almshouse in Leamington Hastings was founded by a schoolmaster called Humphrey Davis in 1608 for eight poor old people (later expanded to house ten). As you can see, the building offers an attractive prospect near the centre of the village. The almshouse has been through difficult times in the past. The original trustees (brother and nephew of the founder) were accused of not putting poor people in the almshouse and selling off land that had been left to support the charity; as a result they were ejected as trustees in 1632.
There was scandal when Jane Man – the unmarried daughter caring for a resident – became pregnant, she was expelled in 1794, but readmitted 10 years later to care for another resident. In the 17th century, the overseers of the poor used the almswomen at Leamington Hastings as cheap labour spinning hemp and later on Widow Hewitt taught the village girls to spin. Widow Makepeace was expelled for causing a fire in the communal kitchen in 1811. 20 year old Richard Cleaver and his wife Mary were removed from Berkswell to their parish of settlement (Leamington Hastings) and rather surprisingly given a room in the almshouse there, suggesting that the overseers of the poor were treating it as a parish poor house.
Evacuees and problems in the 20th century
Empty rooms in the almshouse were used for evacuees during the Second World War. The almshouse became dilapidated and difficult to fill and nearly closed in the 20th century; however it was rescued and renovated in the 1980s. It is to be hoped that the almshouse will continue to provide a home for elderly people, as the founder intended, for many years to come.
Chief source: an interesting book in the Warwickshire County Record Office: MacFarquhar, G. Leamington Hastings Almshouses and Poor’s Plots, Rugby, 1984.