I found mention of ‘new’ almshouses in Stoneleigh in the census but had been unable to find them. A national web-site identified a row of promising-looking sandstone buildings as almshouses in Stoneleigh. However members of the local history society showed me documents to prove otherwise, including maps of the site. I had driven past the correct building many times but not realised that it was an almshouse.
When was it built?
The new almshouse was built in the 19th century at the instigation of Margaret, Dowager Lady Leigh. Over the door is the date 1850, and one might reasonably assume that this was the date when it was built. However if you look closely it mentions Sep[tember] 27, which was the date that her husband, Lord Chandos Leigh died; so the almshouse commemorates him. The building itself dates from after 1855 (when the land was conveyed) but before 1861, because it appears in the census that year.
Residents of the new almshouses
The four new almshouses had 4, 2, 3, and 4 rooms respectively. Living in the new almshouses in 1861 was Emma Barnett, a 17 year old pupil teacher with her 50 year old widowed mother. There were also two older almswomen aged 83 and 76 and the local infant school teacher Rebecca Patstone, with her three sons (a 19 year old servant, a 14 year old farm boy and a nine year old scholar) – hopefully in one of the four roomed almshouses. So it must have been far from a quiet haven for the elderly! Rebecca was still living there 10 years later, but 20 years later (aged 72) she had retired and moved into the old almshouses.
Caring for paupers
Interestingly the new almshouses contained a couple of young Warwick Union Boarders in 1871, presumably orphans whom the poor law guardians were paying the almswomen to care for.