|St Joseph's Cottages||Kensington & Chelsea|
St Joseph's Cottages are Roman Catholic almshouses, which face onto a small garden. They were built as part of a complex of buildings including St Joseph's Primary School and St Mary's Church. A chapel for Catholic pensioners of the Royal Hospital and a small Orphanage Asylum existed nearby by 1812. At that time the present site of St Joseph's Almshouses was a cricket ground. In 1842 a new charity was established to provide for sick and retired RC clergy, with plans to build a church, cemetery, school and almshouses. The school was built in 1844, and the almshouses followed in 1847 built at the north-east corner of the site next to the school.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/01/2006
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In 1812 the Roman Catholic chapel was built for Catholic pensioners of the Royal Hospital on the north side of Cadogan Street, at the corner of Church Row. Close by was a small Catholic Orphanage Asylum, and at that time the present site of St Joseph's Almshouses was occupied by Lord's Cricket Ground, then known as the Wellington Ground, before their move to St John's Wood. On 27 May 1842 a Deed of Gift between Joseph and Mary Knight, the Revd William Wilde and seven others, set up a charity for the benefit of the Parish of St Mary in the Westminster Diocese. The charity was to acquire some 5750 square feet of land on the south side of Cadogan Street and it was planned to include the church, cemetery, school and almshouses. It appears that the original intention of the almshouses was to afford accommodation for sick and retired Catholic clergy from the Diocese. The school was built in 1844, probably designed by the architect A W Pugin, who also designed the mortuary chapel in 1845 for the cemetery (now disused). In 1847 building began on the almshouses with the help of the parish priest, Mgr. Eyre, again according to designs by Pugin. Twenty-four cottages were planned but only 18 were built, in two blocks of 9, at the north-east corner of the site next to the school.
By 1849 eight residents were already in occupation although the official opening was not until 1855. A plaque on the site has an inscription recording they were built 'by the generosity of Joseph and Mary Knight'. In 1851 assistance was provided by the Brook Green Aged Poor Society and in 1855, following the opening, an appeal for funds was published, whereby any person contributing half a guinea for three years was entitled to nominate a Resident. Residents had to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church living in Chelsea and receiving less than 3s/6d a month. The OS map of 1870 shows the almshouses, school buildings and burial ground on the site. In 1877/9 St Mary's Roman Catholic Church and rectory, designed by J F Bentley, were built nearby. On 24 April 1890 the Endowment Fund was established to supplement the original Deed of Gift. The Custodian Trustees of the two charities comprised the Westminster Roman Catholic Diocese but day-to-day management was delegated to three Managing Trustees, consisting of the Rector of St Mary's and two others. On 24 March 1964 the constitution was reviewed by the Charities Commission, and a definitive scheme drawn up confirming that Almspeople had to be 'poor persons of good character, members of the Roman Catholic Church living in Chelsea'.
In 1958 the premises were extensively renovated and re-consecrated under the auspices of Bishop David Cashman, Rector of St Mary's from 1958-65, who added a block on the east side at right angles to the original two structures. The almshouses were re-consecrated by Bishop David Cashman and blessed by Cardinal John Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster on 12 July 1966. Further renovations took place in 1985, and St Joseph's Almshouses were re-opened on 17 October 1986 by Cardinal Basil Hume.
Today there are ten cottages and the residents take care of the flower beds in the small garden area that they face onto. This has a central bed with roses and a laurel bush, with a number of other beds with roses, a bird bath, and various flower pots at the perimeter. A recent addition has been a conservatory, which provides an additional communal area.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed), p580/1; The Revd William Anderson, history of St Mary's Parish (S Walker & Co, Hinkley, Leics), 1938.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Adrian Marston, 2006