Almshouses have been and continue to be an important part of any town or village. They are places of refuge for those who are no longer able to work, of an advanced age or perhaps the widow of a tradesman who has not the funds to support herself. These houses were usually provided by religious groups such as the Hospitlers, the Quakers and so on whose charity gave aid and support to people in need. There are also trusts or benefactors whose generosity take care of these vulnerable people. Amberleigh has such a trust to look after its most vulnerable and whose kindness built the eight houses in the village.
Two decades ago, when Claremont, home of Thomas Pritchard, burnt down, he decided to move back to his London residence, not inclined to rebuild. The Amberleigh Trust saw an opportunity to build almshouses for the worthy poor villagers on this land approached Mr. Pritchard who, upon being asked to sell the property, graciously donated it to the trust. Building works then commenced which resulted in eight brick terraced houses, of one room downstairs and one room upstairs each. Each house had a small patch of garden and shared a “necessary” or outhouse on the property. A house for the warden was also erected, bearing the name “Pritchard House” as a tribute to Mr. Thomas Pritchard’s kindness.
In Amberleigh, the almshouses are situated behind the bakery and near to the Candle Factory. Mr. Parkes, a retired clergy, has been warden of the houses for six years now. His kind demeanour and compassionate overseeing of the tenants and their houses, is a testament to his devotion to Christian brotherhood. Those who benefit from the kind attention of the almoner live contentedly at his capable hands.
Lady Caroline Farnsworth and Lady Elizabeth Marlowe are generous in their donations to the residents of the almshouse, adding to the provisions of the Amberliegh trust. This may come in the form of wood for the fireplaces, food and medical attention as well as planned events such as the Christmas luncheon.
The Almshouses of Amberleigh are a testament to the kindness and generosity of the village to its less fortunate.