What is an Almshouse?

There have been almshouses in the United Kingdom for more than 1000 years, with the oldest almshouse charity foundation still in existence being the Hospital of St Oswald in Worcester, founded in 990. Many are old, often beautiful historic buildings, others are more modern and some are newly built. What we all have in common is our provision of affordable housing and support for the needy or vulnerable, often older people and we are usually managed by trustees.

Ours was set out in the Will of Robert Thorner and was dated 1690 and a copy of the original Will is held in the National Archives. We have further information about our charity under http://thorners.wpengine.com/the-history-of-thorners-homes/

To assist in the understanding of almshouses, the Almshouse Association have prepared a recognised definition.

The recognised definition of an almshouse

An almshouse is a unit of residential accommodation (usually a house or flat) which belongs to a charity and is provided exclusively to meet the charity’s purpose such as but not limited to the relief of financial need or infirmity and is occupied or is available for occupation under a licence by a qualified beneficiary who may be required to contribute a weekly sum towards its maintenance. An almshouse charity is a charity which is established to provide one or more almshouses.

General Description to work alongside this definition:

  1. An almshouse charity is a charity for the relief of financial hardship by the provision of housing and associated services or benefits which:
    (a) is subject to the jurisdiction of the Charity Commission; and
    (b) must (or is authorised to) provide its primary benefit by the grant of a licence to occupy the accommodation that it owns to its beneficiaries

  2.  In addition, an almshouse charity is likely to have one or more of the following features:
    (a) the origin of the charity is a private gift for the relief of poverty;
    (b) the beneficiaries are required to pay a weekly maintenance contribution that must not be set at a level that would cause hardship;
    (c) the nature of the accommodation is such that beneficiaries must show particular consideration for the needs of other residents;
    (d) a significant proportion of the accommodation is permanent endowment:
    (e) the beneficial class or the geographical area from which it can be drawn is restricted.

Please see Almshouses today |