The Friendly Almshouses

By women for women since 1802

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A Brief History


Designed to shelter those who were too old or sick to work any longer, almshouses, originally 'Hospitals', were first set up over 1000 years ago. One of the earliest of these was founded by King Athelstan in York in AD 986. Later foundations were made by the Church, royalty and wealthy landowners. From the 16th century, Livery Companies, Mayors and landowners all provided housing for the elderly and much of this survives today all over the country. Most of London's almshouses were built or rebuilt in the 19th century, many of their inhabitants being those who had worked in domestic service and when too old and frail had been left with neither income nor shelter.

In 1802 a group of women decided to raise money to help other women who had fallen on hard times. Providing at first small grants or pensions, they soon began to build almshouses, at first in Camberwell and later in Brixton. In 1863 the accommodation known as Victoria Cottages was completed, of which four from the original six survive today. Together with Martindale House, built after the war, these provide comfortable homes in a peaceful garden in the heart of Brixton.


For a fuller history click the next link to the left.