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C19th.CENTURY, BUILDING THE ALMSHOUSES
|Land enclosures in Bloxham (1802) and in Deddington (1808) added to Deddington’s existing charitable income and by 1818 the Feoffees owned, in addition, “some small closes, 7 cottages, the Town Hall and 3 butchers stalls beneath it, the whole estate yielding a clear income of c. £140 a year” according to the Victoria County History.
New Feoffees were appointed at this time and, with cash in hand, they set about building actual homes for the parish poor.
Land was bought in Church Street and the familiar almshouses were built on the site of two existing cottages at a cost of £653. There are no details of building materials but the houses must have looked very much as they do today. The work was finished in 1822 and provided lodging for eight people.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
The Commission on Charities’ Report of 1824 gives details of the benefits accruing to the Almshouse inmates: “for each of the (4) men a hat and greatcoat; for each of the (4) women a bonnet and cloak, of uniform colour.’ Each almshouse contained “two besteads, with flock beds, four chairs, one table, a grate and a set of fire irons.” Clothing and furnishings were the property of the Feoffees and were, presumably handed down to each new inhabitant. The inmates had to be Deddington parishioners “of fair and honest name or fame” and “regularly, decently and devoutly attend divine service at the church, and not elsewhere.” (In 1842 Revd Cotton Risley mentions in his Diary that he has given “the sacrament to all the old women at the Almshouses.”)
In 1856 the Court of Chantry document relating to the management of the Deddington Charity Estates (to which the Feoffees had become affiliated, changing their title to Trustees) spells out the terms and conditions of almshouse living. There are still to be 8 inmates, four male and four female, “preference being always given to those candidates who shall not within twelve months of their election have been an inmate of a workhouse or have been place on the permanent List for outdoor relief.” The document continues: “The trustees shall out of… the charity property pay to each of the men in the almshouses the sum of Four shillings a week… to women… the sum of Three shillings a week.” A medical attendant was provided to supply treatment and medicine for a sum “not exceeding Ten pounds per annum.” The inmates could be removed for “immorality, drunkenness quarrelsome behaviour, breech of rules.” (See VCH.) The term “inmate” to describe the almspeople seems well-chosen. The Chantry document faithfully reflected the mores of the time and there clings to its dictates the faint sense that poverty should be alleviated but not condoned. (The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 enshrined the unsubtle moral dimension by providing workhouses for the “deserving poor” and houses of correction for the “undeserving poor”.)
C20TH – MINUTE BOOK
The next continuous account of the Almshouses is the Trustees Minute Book (1906 -88). In the first half of the century a Visiting Committee (elected by the Trustees) inspected the Almshouses regularly. Most of their reports concern structural repairs and maintenance.
Not surprisingly, given the age of new tenants, their election regularly occupies the Committee. Notices were posted around the parish advertising vacancies and later, the names of those elected were also posted. While names are mentioned in the minutes every few years, references to individuals are rare and to tensions between Trustees and tenants even rarer. At the beginning of the century there are one or two personal stories. In 1911 a Mrs Checkley, matron, is sacked with a week’s notice. A Mrs Erdway (?) takes her place as matron at an extra payment of 2/- a week. In 1912 an inmate’s daughter writes that she cannot allow her mother to go into the Almshouses “as she could not get her furniture into the house.” (This problem was later solved – how, we are not told.) In 1913 one tenant is taken to task for carrying on a second-hand clothing business from his cottage. His conduct is later considered “unsatisfactory” and he is evicted. Some years later another tenant is accused of emptying his slops into the road outside the Houses. Whether the behaviour of all other tenants later in the century was “satisfactory” or whether the Trustees decided, in future, not to minute personal disagreements, is open to speculation.
REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE
In 1906 the Almshouses were 84 years old. Necessary repairs, estimates, delays in execution of work and subsequent questioning of bills frequently take up committee time. Perhaps the most interesting strand to follow is the slow evolution from a nineteenth century concept of adequate accommodation to the standards that prevailed towards the end of the twentieth century.
In 1912 “two new besteads” are ordered. There is no indication of how long the previous beds have been passed on from occupant to occupant. In January 1914 the Committee considers “some means of warming the bedrooms in times of sickness,” – a humane moment. Unfortunately the idea is debated without conclusion for the next three years. In 1917 the idea is again “postponed until the next half-yearly meeting”. The minutes for this meeting contain no reference to heated bedrooms.
Hand in hand with the task of upgrading accommodation go ever-increasing bills. In 1926 repairs need to be done to the Almshouse forecourt. Three tenders are obtained: Hopcraft & Son: £25.14.9. Parker & Son: £21.2.6. Mr. Sykes: £14.15.0. Perhaps unwisely the job is given Mr. Sykes. Three years later there is still trouble over the non-completion of this work to the Trustees’ satisfaction.
In 1932 a change from gas to electricity is proposed and in 1937 the Committee considers new lavatories, to be attached to the new sewer in Church Street. (The minutes rarely make specific mention of when a proposal becomes a fait accompli.)
During WW2 the Ministry of Supply removed the iron railings in front of the Almshouses. Although this was a contribution to the ‘war effort’, the Committee registers a protest (a nice example of the philosophic point: general versus individual good) and in 1943 proposes a protective wooden fence instead.
Modernisation progresses slowly. In 1944 the Trustees consider an estimate from the Wessex Electricity Company for £26.6.0 for installing ‘two lights and one power plug in each house”, the Charity to pay “the first quarter’s account for light consumed by the inmates and that the current for power be not connected to the meter for the present.” In 1945 a motion is carried “that the current for power be not provided for the inmates for the present and that the Charity pay all accounts for lighting.”
New ranges for two cottages are proposed in 1946 at a cost of £7.15.0.
The next updates in comfort come in 1953. The Visiting Committee suggests a patent floor covering for the living rooms and, at a later stage, redecoration of the living rooms and adequate food storage. P.R. Alcock supplies an estimate for patent magnesium flooring at a cost of £94.12.0. (Compare the cost of this with the forecourt work of 1926.)
A year later there is a surprising entry in the minutes. There is reference to the Charity Commission’s Order of 1917 (!) which stated that the Almspeople receive “not less than 4/- a week and not more 6/-.” Full payment was “not to be paid in any case where the Almsperson was in receipt of an Old Age Pension or other secured income.” A current occupant, William Plant, in the absence of any pension, is therefore granted “the maximum payment of 6/- a week.” It seems extraordinary that there should have been no payment increase for almost forty years, given the evidence of rapidly rising costs elsewhere.
As the century progresses control of the Almshouses is subject to more and more external forces. Fire Insurance has to be increased in 1954 to £2,000 and in 1959 Banbury Rural District Council agrees to allow a 20% reduction in the Almshouse rates. The Trustees’ obligations grow ever more burdensome.
For the next eight years the Minutes are noticeably skimpier, but we do learn that in 1961 “the flushing systems in the lavatories required overhaul” and in 1963 urgent repair work was needed on “water taps… chimneys, windows and doors.”
In 1964 there is mention of a donation from Deddington Horticultural Society of a “curtain for end front door of the Almshouses.” The Deddington Nursing Association, on its demise, had donated £200 to the Charity in 1951 and these gifts are perhaps indicative of the ever-increasing role that individual fundraising was to play in the years ahead – not only in Deddington but in the world!
In 1965 the Trustees note “sudden heavy increases” in bills received from the Southern Electricity Board (the quaintly named Wessex Electricity Company having presumably been consigned to literary history). This is caused by inmates having installed electric cookers and heaters. The Trustees decide that, in future, inmates will pay for their own electricity but that the Trustees will make a quarterly allowance of £1.50 to each inmate. (Note that the word “inmate” is still used to describe the almspeople.)
Up to this point most of the work on the Almshouses had been largely remedial. A degree of modernisation had been achieved but it becomes clear that a major overhaul is required if the houses are to reach acceptable modern standards.
In 1966 architects are employed to inspect the Almshouses “and make suggestions as to the repairs required, having regard to the limited funds available for upkeep of structure.” This first estimate is for £269.10.
For the next three years repair work goes ahead but restructuring appears to be on hold. Then in 1970 Betty Hill presents architectural drawings to the Committee. These provide for a small kitchen and lavatory for each cottage, better staircases, heating etc.
The Trustees subsequently decide to join the National Association of Almshouses and over the next three years an NAA architect, Christopher Rayson ARIBA, makes three visits to Deddington to outline his scheme for modernisation. In 1971 he indicates that the cost will be around £7,500. In 1973, this has risen to £13,000 and on his final visit in 1974 Rayson reviews his figure again. The sum needed is now £17,400. The Trustees comment dismally that this is a “very large sum in view of the Estates’ lack of capital.” But there is a divine intervention. The minutes of August 1974 contain a report that the late Mrs M.E. Thomas of Chapel Square, Deddington, had left her estate to the Trustees, “in their absolute discretion towards maintenance, repair, decoration or re-decoration, renovation, improvement, building or re-building of the Almshouses.” In other words, the Trustees are free to use the money as they wish, initially reckoned to be around £11,000. Bingo!
This legacy introduces a period of intense activity – and increasing bureaucracy. Architects and local building firms are approached for advice and estimates. There are questions about mortgage repayments, arguments over work done, or not done, vandalism during the re-building, when ninety leaded light windows are broken and, subsequently, a lengthy and litigious correspondence over who is responsible for making good the damage. Weekly rent payments are questioned in the light of new amenities and the DHSS is asked for advice. Trustees resign.
Finally in 1976 the make-over is complete. A cutting (from the Banbury Guardian?) is pasted into the Minute Book, headed, “Legacy aids facelift.” The homes “now boast full central heating, kitchen, bathroom, sitting room and bedroom.” Des res indeed.
The nineteenth century Trustees would not have recognised the world in which the current Trustees had to operate. Intervention from outside bodies continues to increase. Cherwell District Council, the DHSS, the NAA, banks and insurance companies now all have their say in the management of the Almshouses. It’s a fascinating microcosm of the vast social and financial changes taking place in the UK at that time.
From 1976 until 1988 when the Minute Book entries end (during which time typed minutes replace hand-written ones) there are few direct references to the Almshouses.
In May, 1976 the Banbury DHHS is consulted and “it was agreed that the weekly contribution of each almsperson (finally, not “inmate”) would be £7, made up of £6.82 rent and 18p for rates.” Heating, lighting and cooking costs are extra. Very soon one or two tenants are in difficulties over payment.
In 1977 insurance is raised to £48,000, “to overcome the problem of inflation in future.”
In spite of the make-over, it was found necessary to replace the front doors and Franklins of Deddington undertake the work at a cost of £801.41. In 1980 it is decided that the old doors shall either be sold or given away. Does anyone in the village possess an almshouse door?
From 1982 to 1988 there are no specific references to the Almshouses in the Minute Book – perhaps a good point at which to end this brief history.
Victoria History of the County of Oxford, Vol.XI, ed. A. Crossley (London: Institute of Historical Research. 1983)
Early Victorian Squarson The Diaries of William Cotton Risley Vicar of Deddington 1835-1848 Extracts: Geoffrey Smedley-Stevenson. Banbury Historical Society Vol. 29 2007
A History of Deddington Oxfordshire H.M. Colvin S.P.C.K. 1973
Leah Calcutt and the current Trustees of Deddington Charity Estates for the loan of their Minute Book (1906 – 88)
SP4631 DEDDINGTON CHURCH STREET
8/159 Nos. 1 to 4 (consecutive)
08/12/55 Almshouses (formerly listed as Almshouses)
Row of four almshouses. 1818. Marlstone ashlar; Welsh slate roof with brick stacks. Single unit plans. Gothic style. Two storeys. Symmetrical front with storey band has a central recessed passage entry flanked by pairs of cottages with adjoining doors, each with a lattice glazed two light casement at each floor. All openings have chamfered pointed arched stone surrounds and the windows have ‘Y’ tracery echoed in the door panels. Roof has projecting eaves. Gable stacks and central double stack have plinths and octagonal shafts with projecting caps. Interiors not inspected.
(Buildings of England: Oxfordshire: p572; VCH: Oxfordshire: Vol XI, p87)
Listing NGR : SP4674031664
Known Inmates of The Almshouses in Deddington
Compiled by Michael Allbrook
Occupants of Almshouses have traditionally been known as inmates, so we continue with that tradition in this website. The current term used is residents.
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1841
|William Parsons||72||Almsman||died 1848|
|James Vincent||73||Almsman||died in 1841 or 1843|
|Edward Sweetman||74||Almsman||died 1849|
|William Welch||76||Almsman||died 1850|
|Ann Manning||80||Almswoman||died 1848|
|Mary Sepious or Lefs.. or ?||76||Almswoman||died ?|
|Jane Terry||82||Almswoman||died 1849|
It would appear that she had family in the Almshouse Sarah age 22, John 1 and Hannah age 7
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1851
|Thomas Hopcraft||80||Mason||died 1855|
|Thomas French||76||Weaver and||died 1855|
|James Hedges||80||Paper Maker||probably died in 1856|
|Thomas Haysbrook||79||Agricultural Labourer|
|Surname not clear|
|Ann Rymill (or Rymell)||64||Tailor’s widow||died 1857|
|Elizabeth Bennett||66||Weaver’s widow||died 1867|
|Elizabeth Richardson||66||Draper’s Daughter||died 1859|
|Jane Parish||64||Blacksmith’s widow||died 1876 age 90|
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1861
|Richard Williams||79||Cooper||died 1870|
|Thomas Gibbs||86||Agricultural Labourer||died 1864|
|Thomas Churchill||80||Agricultural Labourer||died 1868|
|Richard Sessions||73||House Servant||died 1864|
|Ann Rymill (or Rymell)||74||Tailor’s widow||died 1857|
|Elizabeth Bennett||76||Weaver’s widow||died 1867|
|Sophia Emberlin||69||Paper Manufer’s widow||died 1871 age 78|
|Jane Parish||74||Blacksmith’s widow||died 1876 age 90|
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1871
|Hannah Turbitt||72||nothing recorded||died 1884 age 88|
|Jane Parish||85||nothing recorded||died 1876 age 90|
|John Cowley||89||nothing recorded||died 1876 age 91|
|William Satchel||72||nothing recorded||died 1876 age 78|
|Richard Bliss||79||nothing recorded||died 1883 age 90|
|Thomas Green||75||nothing recorded||died 1879 age 80|
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1881
|Ann Woolgrove||73||Alms person||died 1890 age 83|
|Amelia Cowley||67||Alms person||died 1907 age 97|
|Hannah Turbit(t)||81||Widow slater & plasterer||1890 age 83|
|Richard Gardner||76||Methodist Preacher||died 1885 age 79|
|Richard Wheeler||73||none stated||died 1882 age 74|
|Richard Bliss||94||Agricultural Labourer||died 1883 age 90|
|William Stilgoe||75||Agricultural Labourer||died 1886 age 8|
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1891
|John Knibbs||84||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1901 age 94|
|Charles Mason||60||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1897 age 67|
|Augustus J E Lamb||64||Inmate of Almshouse||1903 age 73|
|Amelia Cowley||76||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1907 age 9|
|Lydia Matthews||75||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1896 age 80|
|Martha Bennett||69||Inmate of Almshouse|
The Inmates as recorded in the census of 1901
|Augustus J Ellis Lamb||71||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1903 age 73|
|Amelia Cowley||85||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1907 age 97|
|Martha Dale||67||Boarder||died 1910 age 76|
|Temperance Penn||72||Inmate of Almshouse||died 1911 age 81|
Sophia Emberlin (in the 1861 census) was the last paper maker at the Mill which was situated in Paper Mill Lane
John Knibbs (in the 1891 census) is mentioned by Mary Vane Turner. He was Ale Taster by appointment of Court Leet checking that the beer was of an acceptable standard and perhaps equally unusual was his role as Town Crier.
Census information is available in 1911 and will be added.
The Minute Book of Deddington Charity Estates
However the Minute Book of Deddington Charity Estates 1906 – 1988 reveals more information about the inmates. Strangely there is no record of when or why the inmates have left as a general rule. The most obvious cause is their death but it is also possible that they moved into other accommodation. The Workhouse, or more recently, a Nursing Home being options.
The Minute Book for the period January 1906- June 1988 records:
12 Jan 1906 A vacancy exists
13 Jan 1908 Mrs Mary Ann Cowley (share with Mrs Perrin) elected inmate: 18 Jan
1908. Mary Ann Cowley was buried on 19 Jan 1912 aged 80 according to the Parish Records.
Mr Coggins (share with Mr Penn) elected inmate: 18 Jan 1908
9 Jan 1911 Elizabeth Ordway age 62 elected inmate: 21 Jan 1911 also to be Matron
17 July 1911 Eliza Matthews age 63 elected inmate: 22 Jul 1911 (share with Mrs Ordway)
8 Jan 1912 Mrs Ellen Clarke age 72 elected inmate: 13 January 1912. It was
later reported that Mrs Clarke did not take up this offer. In fact she
was buried on 15 April 1912 aged 72 according to the Parish Records.
5 Sep 1912 William Bowerman elected inmate: 10 Sep 1912 (share with David Whetton)
17 May 1915 Susannah Wyatt age 71 elected inmate
26 May 1915 James Jarvis and David Whetton had been removed
William Bowerman who had resigned from the Almshouses was re-elected as an inmate from 17 July 1915
17 Apr 1916 Edwin Lewis age 76 elected inmate: 29 April 1916
John Williams age 70 elected inmate: 29 April 1916
10 Jul 1916 William Bowerman had died
31 Jul 1916 John Baylis age 83 elected inmate: 5 Aug 1916
21 May 1916 Caroline Cowley age 60 elected inmate: 26 May 1916
4 Feb 1917 John A French age 70 elected inmate: 9 Feb 1917
6 April 1920 Mary Jane Evins elected inmate: 1 May 1920
Martha Sarah Evins elected inmate: 1 May 1920
31 Jul 1922 William Woods age 76 elected inmate: 12 August 1922
8 Sep 1924 John Sykes age 72 did accept the offer even though he had applied
Annie Hicks age 74 did accept the offer even though she had applied
Sarah Franklin 74
8 Nov 1926 Mrs Franklin had died on 8 Sep 1926
20 Dec 1926 Mary Jakeman age 71 elected inmate: 1 Jan 1927
5 Aug 1927 William Bonham age 68 elected inmate: 20 Aug 1927
19 Jan 1931 William Wood was transferred to Woodstock Workhouse at his request and because of his illness on 31 Dec 1930
12 Aug 1931 William Cowley age 74 elected inmate: 29 August 1931
17 Jul 1931 William Bonham elected inmate: 16 June 1933 and after the house has been disinfected
14 Aug 1933 John Bliss age 71 elected inmate: 19 Aug 1933
1 Apr 1935 Mrs Annie Sykes age 71 elected inmate: 6 Apr 1935
20 Jan 1936 Mary Jakeman died on 21 Nov 1935. Almshouse disinfected which
Subsequently became a regular part of the changeover process
23 Mar 1936 Charlotte Allen age 65 elected inmate: 28 Mar 1936
18 Jan 1937 John Bliss died on 22 Aug 1936
James Cowley age 72 elected inmate: 20 Jan 1937
17 Jul 1939 William Cowley died 1 Feb 1939
John Miller age 68 elected inmate: 29 Jul 1939
21 Jan 1939 Miss Charlotte Allen died
7 Mar 1944 Miss Edith Alexandra Berridge of Market Place elected inmate
27 Mar 1945 John Miller left Deddington
John Henry Vincent of the Tchure elected inmate
6 May 1946 Mrs Sykes died on 6 April 1946
Mrs Clara Cross of New Street elected inmate
18 Feb 1948 James Cowley died on 8 Dec 1947
John William Hopcraft age 75 elected inmate
7 Mar 1950 John Henry Vincent died in Jan 1950
William Plant elected inmate
24 May 1955 Miss Berridge had died
Miss L Weaver elected inmate
2 Mar 1959 Mrs Plumbe elected inmate
1 Mar 1960 Miss Rose Gilkes elected inmate
21 Jun 1961 William Plumb had died
Samuel Fox elected inmate
12 Feb 1963 Samuel Fox had died
Martin Ramsey Sykes of Deddington elected inmate
29 Jan 1964 Spencer Herbert Mason to be offered Almshouse
7 Aug 1970 Miss Weaver had vacated an Almshouse
Applications had been received from Mrs L P Vincent and Mrs A M Sykes but no decision by the Trustees is recorded
31 Aug 1973 Mr S H Mason had died
16 Dec 1975 Mrs Sheppard, widow of Hempton Road elected inmate
29 Jan 1973 Article in newspaper reports that the renovation is complete and two of
the Almshouses are again occupied. The legacy was the gift of Mrs May Thomas of Chapel Square.
5 Feb 1976 Mrs E Clarke of Chalfont St Peter elected inmate
Miss R C Smith of Therford, Banbury elected inmate
12 Sep 1977 Mr G S Burton elected inmate
24 Apr 1983 Mrs E Duggett elected inmate
9 Jan 1984 Mrs D Pritchard elected inmate
We have not entered details after 1988