|Sir William Powell's Almshouses||Hammersmith & Fulham|
Sir William Powell's Almshouses were established in 1680 to accommodate 12 poor women. Originally sited in Back Lane in Fulham, they were built here at Church Row in 1869, next to Fulham Parish Church of All Saints. The picturesque almshouses are arranged as an L-shaped block fronted by a small garden, with a bay tree, rose bed, lawn and holly hedge.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2005
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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.
The almshouses are part of the complex around Church Gate that includes All Saints Church, Vicarage Gardens and also Pryors Bank and Bishop's Park (q.q.v.). Anne Powell, niece of Sir Edward Powell, married Thomas Hinson of Dublin who settled in Fulham in c.1640; the couple had two sons, the younger called William. Sir Edward, having no direct heirs, left his estate to William on condition that he adopted his name. As a result William (Hinson) Powell inherited a number of properties in Fulham and following his election as MP for Hereford was created a baronet. Among his properties were a number of almshouses in which he took great interest, and in his will he left some properties in Back Lane, between Fulham High Street and Burlington Road, to his brother Thomas Hinson. The properties consisted of a tenement containing three lower rooms and a shed and three upper rooms with a little room over the shed and a staircase on the outside. Sir William had directed that it should be inhabited by 12 poor women and that the trustees 'should out of the rents buy and provide two shillings worth of good wheaten bread and cause the same to be given and distributed equally to and amongst the same twelve poor women upon each Sunday in the full noon yearly'. The trustees were also directed that the rent and profits should be used 'to buy and provide six poor men of the parish six coats and six pairs of breeches made of good English wool and cloth, and that they should upon the feast day of Nativity deliver the same in or at the church porch at Fulham unto the six poor men'. In the succeeding years the devisees were required to make a similar gift to six other poor men of the parish; these twelve men were in turns of six to be annual recipients of the charity.
Sir William died without having made any rules for the appointment or government of the almswomen and after the death of the surviving trustee, Richard Powell, the management of the charity passed into the hands of the Vicar and Parish Officers of the parish of Fulham, who consisted of the two Churchwardens of All Saints and the three Overseers of the Poor of the parish. Over the next 200 years the lease of the property changed hands repeatedly and there were several sub-lessees. Repairs and rebuilding was required, supported by a number of gifts made by Powell's son-in-law Sir John Williams, Dr Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London and a prime mover in the anti-slavery campaign, Earl Cholmondeley and others. Eventually, on 8 February 1854, the lease was granted to Mr William Chasemore for 21 years. This brought the trustees to a difficult position since the man to whom Chasemore sold the property failed to pay the rent, mortgaged the premises and left the country. The property fell into disrepair and was shut up, eventually recovered and possession restored to the trustees by the Sheriff of Middlesex. However this arrangement did not last for long; once more the premises fell into disrepair and in 1867 it was decided to move.
A spot was selected facing Fulham Churchyard adjoining the grounds of the Bishop of London's Palace and opposite the parsonage in Church Row, one of the oldest byways of the parish, recorded since 1392. No houses bordered the north side, which had an uninterrupted view of the great moat of Fulham Palace. Facing the vicarage and adjacent to the churchyard lay a garden that belonged to the Lord of the Manor and this, together with a piece of land to the west that had been added to the churchyard in 1843, was to be the site of the new almshouses. It had been a private school for young ladies from 1820-41 run by Miss Ann Batsford, but on her retirement the then Bishop of London, Bishop Blomfield, purchased it out of Episcopal revenues to prevent it becoming a private lunatic asylum. The house was pulled down and a portion of the site given to extend the churchyard and the Vicar was allowed to use the remainder, rent-free, as a garden of herbs. When the Bishop died the garden lapsed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to whom the Trustees of William Powell's charity applied for the new almshouses in 1868.
The foundation stone was laid on 16 May 1869 by Revd George Baker, Vicar of All Saints. The almshouses were designed by J P Seddon and provided accommodation for 12 almswomen in an L-shaped block with a square tower that originally housed a water cistern in the roof. A tablet on the first house is inscribed: 'Sir William Powell's Alms Houses Founded 1680, re-built 1869. God's Providence Our Inheritance'; Sir William's arms are also depicted and Bishop Blomfield's armorial bearings decorate a corbelled oriel on the end house facing the churchyard. New regulations were drawn up for the governance of the almshouses in 1871, with similar provisions for 12 almswomen and for 12 poor men. The latter applied until 1887 after which the money benefited the almswomen. A new scheme was drawn up in 1927 under which the 3 ex-officio trustees were replaced by 6 representatives from the Borough Council and 3 co-opted members working or living within 4 miles of All Saints Church.
The almshouses remain the property of the Trust. The residents share the garden, which is simply laid out with a lawn, rose bed along one side flanked by a holly hedge and one tree, a heavily coppiced mature bay, probably at least 100 years old. There are railings to the lane and a small iron gate at the south side. A brick pavior path runs alongside the almshouses, with small flowerbeds beneath ground floor windows.
Mr Skirrow, 'Report to the Charity Commissioners of England and Wales' 14 June 1867; Report to the Charity Commissioners for the Management of Sir William Powell's Almshouses (E H Watts of 7 Schofield Terrace, London), 1871; 'The Architect' 15 November 1873; C J Feret, 'Fulham Old and New' (The Leadenhall Press Ltd), 1890; 'A Note on the Sir William Powell and the Waste Land and Lygon Almshouses', LB Hammersmith, July 1969; Clive Berridge, 'The Almshouses of London' (Ashford Press, Southampton), 1987.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Adrian Marston, 2005