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The History Of All Saints' Wickhambrook

Almshouse restoration and refurbishment 2005


Plaque unveiled at the official opening [Credit M Sumner]

When the present incumbent of the parish of Wickhambrook (part of the Bansfield Benefice group of rural parishes) in West Suffolk, arrived in the Vicarage next to the Almshouses he discovered that he was also to be Chairman of the Wickhambrook United Charities, whose main concern is the running of the two Almshouses built circa 1634 (which happen to be between the church and the Vicarage in the village).

Upon first visit to the two residents Revd Ian Finn found the properties to be vermin infested, dirty, and cold, basically unfit for habitation. Residents had lived under the impression that they were living on charity and could expect nothing more but to put up with the conditions. They were paying a peppercorn maintenance charge.

In 2001 the Chairman made the Trustees aware of the situation in the properties and it was decided to take action to rectify the situation. Initial contact was made with The Almshouse Association to ask for help and guidance for the restoration of the properties.

The then AHA Deputy Director- Mrs Heather Greves came to visit the Almshouses and upon seeing the conditions lent her total support to the project. An Architect Mr Richard Waite of Kings Lynn, was recommended and came to see the properties, drew up some plans and funding was sought. The AHA offered a low interest loan and the Trustees felt confident that the quotes from contractors could be met from this loan and their own investments. Plans were made for residents to leave and the properties vacated, to the relief of the long suffering residents.

However, the stock market took a dive, the Charities investments plummeted and the Trustees found that almost overnight the money they thought they had in stocks and shares had slumped by 25%! The project had to be put on hold. The Almshouses left unoccupied.

It was then in early 2004 that the Trustees, with a new treasurer at the helm of the project, saw their investments rise again. With a very generous grant from the Environmental Health and Housing department of St. Edmundsbury Borough Council, the AHA loan and the Trustees investments the project could go ahead. Builders, G.J Bream Ltd.' of Bury St. Edmunds, were instructed to begin work on the restoration works. Porches, originally planned, were left off for cost reasons.

The two properties were completely rewired, existing floors were excavated, concreted, insulated and DPM fitted. The south end sole plate and timber studwork replaced in oak, oil central heating systems fitted, low level shower and WC room, new kitchens including fridge, washing machine and cooker, secondary double glazed, carpets throughout lounge and bedrooms, tiles on floor of kitchen and bathroom were donated by Traditional Tiles of Wickhambrook.

With the help of a generous charitable grant from Carr Sheppards Crosthwaite - a private client and charity investment company of London, the gardens of the Almshouses were reconstructed by a local landscape gardening contractor. Altogether the project has cost £60,203.

Two new residents applied to live in the Almshouses, and have now moved in. The monthly maintenance charge has been raised to a level advised by the Housing Officer from St. Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The Trustees, and new residents, are very pleased with the refurbished Almshouses which once again are an asset to the local community and home to two lucky people.

The Trustees would like to publicly thank all those who have been named above who have enabled the long needed restoration of the ancient Almshouses in Wickhambrook, Suffolk, to take place.

Revd Ian Finn

Chairman of Trustees

Last Modified Monday 12 February 2018