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Tyne and Wear HER(7012): Houghton-le-Spring, Davenport and Lilburne Almshouses - Details

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Houghton-le-Spring, Davenport and Lilburne Almshouses



Health and Welfare


Post Medieval


Extant Building

Almshouses, now two separate dwellings. Dated 1668, restored c1978. Erected in 1666 by George Lilburne, Governor of Kepier Grammar School, for poor people in the parish. The building would accommodate 3 people. The south wing was added at the southern end following a bequest of £160 in the will of Rector George Davenport 1644-1677. The extension could accommodate another 3 people. In 1908 Robert Surtees described the building as 'low and uniform, consisting of a centre and two wings, and containing six comfortable chambers'. Coursed squared sandstone, pantiled roof. E-plan. One storey. Central door under flattened Tudor arch. 3-light mullioned windows either side. Flat stone gable coping and two chimneys. On the north wing the tablet below the Lilburne crest reads 'GEORGE LILBURNE ESQ. BUILT THE MOIETY OF THIS HOSPITAL AT HIS OWN CHARGE, AND ENDOWED IT WITH TEN POUNDS PER ANNUM FOREVER FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF THREE POOR PEOPLE. ANNO DOM 1668'. Dorothy Spearman, later Fenwick gave an annual payment of £18 to the Lilburne wing of the almshouses when her Uncle Reverend William Sharpe (vicar of Longburton in Dorset) left his estate to her in his will. She had found some papers with his will that showed that he had intended to be a benefactor of the almshouses. There is a tablet on the south wing that reads: 'THE CHARITABLE INTENTION OF THE REVEREND WILLIAM SHARP M.A. CARRIED INTO EFFECT BY MISS DOROTHY SPEARMEN HIS HEIRESS BY WILL, ADDED TO THE REVENUES OF THE ALMSHOUSE £18 PER ANNUM'. Further endowments were provided by three of Houghton's rectors: Henry Bagshaw (1677-1709), Sir George Wheler (1710-1723) and Thomas Secker (1723-1726); from Alfred Merle Norman, Dame Isabella Carr and William Carr, John Frankeln and Mrs E R Challoner of Warden Law. The almshouses were listed in 1950. Even as late as 1965 living conditions in the almshouses were poor. Each resident has one room with a fireplace and oven. There was no electricity, just gas lamps. There was no bathroom. The toilets were in a yard at the back. In 1976 the Kepier Almshouse Charity (still in existence) was founded. In 1978 restoration works were carried out with grant aid. The building was entirely re-roofed with pantiles, parts of the walls were rebuilt, and the eaves strengthened. The building was converted into two dwellings. LISTED GRADE 2




Department of National Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, 7/22; Paul Lanagan, 2012, The Almshouses,; C.A. Smith, September 8th 1960, Almshouses have withstood the ravages of time for 300 years [held by Sunderland Antiquarian Society; Whellan, W, 1856, History, Topography, and Directory of the County Palatine of Durham

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