|St Pancras Almshouses||Camden|
St Pancras Almshouses were founded in 1850 to provide for poor, deserving parishioners. The original buildings opened in 1852 but the site was soon lost to railway expansion, and the almshouses were rebuilt here in 1859-63. The red-brick buildings are ranged around 3 sides with a square lawn, flower beds and perimeter paths, on the south descending to street level by means of two sets of steps. The raised beds and terrace created by this change in levels are ornamented with amateur rock-work, probably early C20th.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2010
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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.
St Pancras Almshouses, Garden in summer, 2009. Photo: Merrick Howse.
Click photo to enlarge.
St Pancras Almshouses were founded in 1850 by a group of local philanthropists at the instigation of Dr Donald Fraser, who lived at Oakley Square (q.v.) and was senior churchwarden of St Pancras Church (q.v.). The aim was to provide for 'about 100 of those decayed, but respectable parishioners who, at the close of lives spent in arduous but unsuccessful struggles for maintenance, find themselves reduced to the alternative of sinking want or privation or of accepting the painful and humiliating position of inmates of the workhouse.' Dr Fraser was particularly concerned that in the workhouse elderly couples were not able to live together. The original almshouses were built on a site north of Prince of Wales Road, and designed by James Colling. They opened in 1852 but became uninhabitable when a significant part of the site was taken for railway expansion. Compensation of £6,000 was eventually granted enabling a new site in Southampton Road to be purchased at a cost of £1,300 in 1858. This site, then owned by a William Thompson, had once been part of a bluebell wood on the estate of Lord Southampton.
The new almshouses were designed by Henry Baker; they were built between 1859 and 1863, although the first residents arrived in 1860. The Charity was obliged to rent out 9 of the flats in order to help provide pensions for some of the poor residents. The Committee Room dates from 1881 and was named after benefactor Sir Horatio Regnart, an important member of St Pancras Borough Council. His wife, Lady Regnart, was an active member of the Managing Committee from 1894-1940, donating and raising funds and also providing for the residents' needs with such things as coal, blankets and hot water bottles. Lady Regnart was also the donor of a pair of statues, the Dogs of Alcibiades, to Victoria Park (q.v.) in Hackney in 1912.
The Almshouses today are managed by a Board of Trustees and provide sheltered accommodation for some 50 people, single and couples, who must be at least 55, resident in Camden for at least 10 years and be in need of housing. The 13 red-brick almshouses are 2-storey, ranged around 3 sides of a courtyard with a square lawn, with flower beds and perimeter paths, the southern side open and descending to street level by means of two sets of steps at the eastern and western corners. The raised beds and terrace created by this change in levels have been ornamented with amateur rock-work, mosaics of broken china and shells set into the low retaining walls and borders of the beds, probably early C20th and now missing in places, although a section survives in good condition on the south-eastern side. The garden is separated from the street by privet hedge and a rendered wall set with ornamental C19th cast iron railings, with two gates, each having a cast iron overthrow with the lettering 'St. Pancras Almshouses'.
The 150th anniversary of the Almshouses was celebrated in 2009 by various events including an exhibition charting their history, a specially commissioned play called 'Dr Fraser's Dream' and a garden party attended by HRH Prince Charles, Patron of the Almshouse Association.
Clive Berridge, the Almshouses of London (Southampton), 1987. Historical exhibition panels produced by St Pancras Almshouses Charity for 150th anniversary, see www.stpancrasalmshouses.org