|The Rawlins Almshouses||Bromley|
The Rawlins Almshouses are modest one-storey red brick almshouses that were erected in 1694 under the will of Anthony Rawlins. Over the centre doorway is a tablet inscribed 'Anthony Rawlins Esq built these Houses for ye poor of this Parish of Beckenham Anno. Dom. 1694'. They were largely rebuilt in 1881 and continue to provide for widows who have lived for at least three years in the area of the former Beckenham UDC. The almshouses have small front and back gardens.
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
Modest one-storey red brick almshouses with attics, which have been here since 1694 under the will of Anthony Rawlins (d.1694). He was a frequent visitor to nearby Kent House (demolished in 1957), which is where he died. He was buried in the 'wool' in St George's Beckenham Churchyard (q.v.) and left £50 for the use of the poor. As a result it was decided to build almshouses with 'three distinct rooms all under one roof' and the land acquired for the purpose was owned by Sir Walter St John. The almshouses, described by Pevsner as 'of the humblest', are still provided for widows who have lived for at least three years in the area of the former Beckenham Urban District Council. The almshouses were substantially rebuilt in 1881, and then modernised in 1981, now having back extensions.
The almshouses have small front and back gardens with boundary trees, a small cypressa at the front, and a few shrubs at front and back. The garden borders the north wall of St George's Churchyard (q.v.), this wall built in 1868 around the time the medieval church was rebuilt. The churchyard's mature trees form a backdrop to the almshouses although there have been problems with overhanging branches, which have been pruned at regular intervals since 1985. In the back garden are three old toilets, now garden sheds. Over the centre doorway is a tablet inscribed: 'Anthony Rawlins Esq built these houses for ye poor of this parish of Beckenham anno.dom.1694.' Concrete paving and a handrail were installed in the back garden in 1992 for £148. The front garden today has a brick wall with three metal gates but earlier photographs of 1880s and early C20th show the boundary as paling or fencing and the etching of 1807 shows the almshouse doors opening straight onto the path in front, although the church is shown with paling.
John Wagstaff & Doris Pullen 'Beckenham: an anthology of Local History' (nd), p21; Robert Borrowman, 'Beckenham Past and Present', 1910; Beckenham Journal, 28/8/1954 p.9; H R Copeland, 'From Village to Borough' (Bromley Local Studies Archive), 1962, pp7 & 20; Beckenham Journal, Bicentenary 13/10/1894; M V Searle, 'Beckenham & Penge in old picture postcards' (European Library), 1989; Eric Inman & Nancy Tonkin, 'Beckenham' (Phillimore), 2002, p41.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Kristina Taylor, 2006