I have always been interested in Almshouses and for some years I have nurtured grandiose ideas for a database of them. I have latterly realised that it is not going to happen: I have been defeated by the sheer scale of the concept, age and Covid. However, I am not going to give up completely. The new approach is to progressively build up a picture starting from my home base in Berkshire and then extending into neighbouring counties where I have already identified many Almshouses.

But what are Almshouses? They grew out of religious foundations, often called hospitals, which provided for the poor, the sick and also pilgrims. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, almshouses were established funded by well-to-do benefactors to provide housing for the poor and needy. There were often eligibility criteria: age, health, living in the locality (often for a specified time), former members of trades and industries. And almshouses were not all secular: many would have a chapel.

Their attraction, then, is both architectural and historical.



The rest of West Berkshire and Reading

East Berkshire

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