History of Rowland Hill Almshouses

Almshouses were established in the 10th century in Britain to provide affordable housing for needy people. The first recorded almshouse was founded in York by King Athelstan, and the oldest still in existence is the Hospital of St. Oswald in Worcester, which dates from circa 990. There are now around 1,750 Almshouse charities in Britain, providing about 30,000 homes nationwide.

Rowland Hill Almshouses were established and named after the founder of the Surrey Chapel on Blackfriars Road. They provided accommodation for 24 poor widows who were members of the church. The almswomen were moved to new accommodation in Ashford at the beginning of the 20th century. Rowland Hill Almshouses (RHA) combines two Almshouse organisations: Rowland Hill and The Vaughan Charity. Mrs Vaughan’s Charity was founded in 1863 by her daughter Mary Sanctonin Southwark. She bequeathed £25,000 to be held in trust to pay a weekly allowance to 24 poor women over 60 who lived in Christchurch. Subsequently, the trustees founded almshouses in Gravel Lane for the beneficiaries designed by Gilbert Scott. A condition of being offered an Almshouse by Mrs Vaughan’s Charity was that potential residents had to attend either at the Surrey Chapel or Christchurch.

In the Victorian period, the Almshouse moved from Southwark to the present site in Ashford, Middlesex. The links remained with Southwark until just a few years ago; the intent, however, remains that we should provide housing for older women in need, with a priority to those connected with the church.

Rowland Hill Almshouse, 1929

1907- Residents of Rowland Hill Almshouses