The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
The oldest almshouses in the Borough of Plymouth were certainly in existence by 1491, when they were mentioned in the Corporation rental. The Wardens were set to pay the Corporation 2s 4d that year. The almshouses may have formed part of the manorial property that passed from the Prior of Plympton to the Mayor and Commonalty. Their demolition in 1868 revealed a semi-Norman arch which it was thought formed part of the original Saint Andrew's Church, before the present building was erected.
This is said to be a Mrs Cory at an
unidentified almshouse in Plymouth.
Known as either the Corporation Almshouses or the "Old Church Twelve's", they stood by the side of the Church in what then Catherine Lane (presently Catherine Street). The houses were to accommodate 12 poor widows and a nurse.
The almshouses were well endowed. When the Wardens were paying their rental of 2s 4d, the Prysten House was paying only 2s 1d and Saint Andrew's only 6d. Certainly they were left small piece of land off Buckwell Street, which may have been the land given by a Mr William Randall in September 1561. Just a few months later, one Johanna Lake left the remainder of her land and 'Mother Hacker' gave some land at 'Crosse Downe', at what is now Greenbank, after the death of Thomas Clowter. Clowter himself left the reversion of his house at Briton Side.
It seems that the site of the almshouses was quite extensive and included a herb garden, orchard, fields, barn and even a chapel, which was licensed by Bishop Lacy in 1450. It is recorded in a lease granted in 1602 that one Robert Trelawny built two houses on part of their garden, for which he duly paid rent.
When in 1708 the Board of Guardians was formed, all the public almshouses in the Borough were supposed to have been handed over to them but the Corporation retained them, as Worth describes: 'as the sole remnant of their charitable trusts'.
These almshouses were cleared away in 1868 in preparation for the erection of the new Guildhall and Municipal Offices and the New Church Almshouses in Green Street were rebuilt and enlarged to take up the accommodation.
A deed dated 1628 records that Mr Thomas Fownes had just erected an almshouse containing thirteen rooms on land between Bedford and Basket Streets, opposite Saint Andrew's Church. It accommodated twenty-four 'decayed and aged people' and in September 1656 was being supported by an endowment of £100, plus interest, from a Mr Timothy Alsop.
The almshouse passed into the hands of the Board of Guardians in 1708 but exactly a century later it was pulled down, having been allowed to become dilapidated due, it was claimed, to a lack of an endowment. The ground was sold to the Corporation for £500 as portion of a site for the erection of a hotel and theatre, the money being put into the Workhouse.
In about 1655 Alice Miller paid for an almshouse to be erected in the churchyard of Saint Andrew's. It consisted of ten rooms and would accommodate twenty people. In 1660 she endowed it with £10 a year from her 22-acre estate at Broadley, which was then let for £25 per year. By her Will, dated August 30th 1664, she left the estate to her cousin, Mr Richard Burdwood, who in turn passed it on to his son, James. By March 1681 this financial support was already in arrears and as a consequence the almshouse was 'for the most part waste and unoccupied, and encumbered beyond the value of the inheritance', James Burdwood conveyed the estate to the Mayor and Commonalty, who in 1720 were renting it out for only £6 per year.
Miller's Almshouse was sold, along with Fowne's and Prynne's, in around 1803.
NEW CHURCH or LANYON'S ALMSHOUSES
Charles Church had only been completed in 1658, albeit without its spire, so it was very much the "New Church" when, in September 1674, Mr John Lanyon bequeathed £300 for the use of the poor people of the new parish and for building an almshouse. In October 1678 the site in Green Street, right opposite the Church, was conveyed by Mr John Trelawney the elder to Mr John Martyn and others, acting for the Corporation, for the sum of £50 3s. There were already some almshouses on the site and the Lanyon ones were built on what remained as a garden. By an indenture dated September 26th 1680 the New Church Almshouses were conveyed by Martyn and his partners to the Corporation. 
Lanyon's Almshouses, in the shadow of Charles' Church.
A tablet on the Almshouses stated that Mr John Gubbs had given £100 to the poor of Plymouth and that his executor, Mr Robert Gubbs, had put this towards the cost of erecting the New Church Almshouses. 
Following the demolition of the "Old Church Twelve's" in 1868, these almshouses were rebuilt the following year with enlarged accommodation. They remain on the same site opposite the remains of Charles Church, although now fronting the Charles Cross roundabout rather than in the peace and quiet formerly enjoyed when they were in Green Street.
The Almshouses were transferred to the Guardians of the Poor in 1708.
COLONEL JORY'S ALMSHOUSES
This was a range of quaint and picturesque cottages in what is now Sutton Road, Coxside. The wall which separated the cottages from the roadway is still in existence in front of the warehouse opposite the site of the now demolished "Shipwrights' Arms" public house.
Although it is usually stated that they were founded in 1703, it is evident from the Report of the Charity Commissioners dated January 16th 1821  that they were already in existence before Mr Jory made indentures of lease and release dated March 1st and 2nd 1702, passing them over to Mr Robert Berry, Mr Philip Pentyre and Mr Thomas Bound, as trustees. The almshouses originally housed twelve poor widows of the Town, who were given a pension in addition to accommodation. More information about the endowment will be found at Joseph Jory's Charity.
The site of the almshouses was purchased in 1878 by the Great Western Railway, using statutory powers.
These, along with Fowne's and Miller's Almshouses, were sold by the guardians of the poor in about 1803 and demolished for the improvement of the Town. They fetched £600.
R T SPEARMAN'S ALMSHOUSE
Location not known. It is recorded that in 1824 Mr R T Spearman left £12,000 to be applied, after the death of certain parties, in found an almshouse for poor women above the age of 60, and who were members of the Established Church.
Fox's Cottages or Almshouses were in Windsor Street, on the northern side directly opposite the Windsor Arms Public House.
By his will dated August 23rd 1809, Mr Francis Fox left £1,200 for the purchase of a site and erection of six almshouses in Plymouth. The bequest was invalid, however, and as a result the money went to his main benefactor, Mr William Dillworth Crewdson. Although the almshouses were said to have been built in 1834, it was by means of an indenture dated June 11th 1840 that the land was conveyed to the trustees for £215 and it would seem that the almshouses were then erected. Although known as Fox's Almshouses they were in fact erected at the instruction of Mr Crewdson. Read more about Mr Fox's Gifts.....
The cost of the purchase of the land and the building of the cottages exhausted the funds and it only thanks to further charitable gifts from Mr William Dillworth Crewdson, Sarah Crewdson and Lydia Prideaux, that the almshouses were maintained.
Each Cottage had two rooms and although there were only six cottages they were to accommodate twelve poor women over the age of 50 years and who had resided in the Borough for at least twelve months. The inmates were appointed by Miss Harriet Richardson, one of the trustees, with the consent of the other trustees, Doctor Charles Albert Hingston, Mr George Hingston and Mr Arthur Edward Pridham. Although the trustees were appointed from with the Religious Society of Friends, there was no requirement for the residents to belong to that organisation.
The inmates were expected to have their own means of financial support but about £20 per year from the supporting charities was divided among them.
Victoria Cottages in Victoria Street, Plymouth, between Portland Square and James Street, were purchased in 1834 by Mrs Mary Granville Hodson. By a deed dated February 2nd 1844 she endowed them with £500-worth of 3% consols and they became almshouses for twelve poor women of the parishes of Saint Andrew's and Charles.
GOOSEWELL ALMSHOUSES, PLYMSTOCK
Sir Christopher Harris Kt, of Radford, founded almshouses at Plymstock in 1617. They accommodated five poor persons and were in Goosewell Road, opposite Higher Goosewell Farm and just to the north of Jew's Wood.
They were eventually sold in 1933 for £270 but were not demolished until comparatively recently.
BURGOYNE'S ALMSHOUSE, PLYMPTON
Burgoyne's Almshouse stood on the eastern corner at the bottom of Dark Street Lane, Underwood, Plympton. It had fallen in to a ruinous condition between 1729 and 1759.
HELE'S ALMSHOUSES, PRINCE ROCK
When Mr Anthony Richard Lethbridge was elected to the chair of the Charity Trusts Committee of the Plymouth Guardians of the Poor in about 1892, he introduced a scheme for the provision of cottage almshouses, as he liked to call them. After inspecting sites at Mannamead, Middle Mutley, and Prince Rock the latter site was chosen. The owner was Mr Bewes, who offered to sell them the whole field rather than the half that they wanted or could afford to purchase. As a result, Mr Lethbridge bought the field and allowed the Guardians to select either the top of bottom half for half the cost, namely £1,855. This was funded from income from land at Plympton, Brixton and Yealmpton bequeathed in 1632 by Mr Elize Hele.
A design competition was held and the plans of Messrs Wiblin and de Boinville were selected, upon the recommendation of local architects, Messrs Hine and Odgers. The plans of Messrs B Priestley Shires were placed second. The tender of Mr W G Goad was accepted for the erection of the houses, in the sum of £3,190.
On the afternoon of Thursday October 14th 1897 Mr Lethbridge laid the foundation stone, in the presence of the Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman C H Radford. The Deputy Governor, Mr W J Stanbury, presided over the proceedings in the absence of the Governor, Mr H S Willcocks. The inscribed silver trowel used was supplied by Messrs G E Searle & Sons, of Bedford Street, Plymouth.
It was stated at the time that it was not intended that the almshouses should be occupied by persons in receipt of parochial relief but by those who, formerly held fairly good positions in life and of guaranteed respectability, were entitled from their lack of means to have the payment of rent eased for them.
Six properties were to be initially erected. These were to be two-storey, each with a bedroom and sitting-room for two persons. Others would be added in due course.
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