Houblon's Almshouses

Worple Way, Sheen Road, Richmond, TW10 6DA


In an indenture dated 11th August 1757 Rebecca Houblon (1684-1758), unmarried daughter of Sir John Houblon, the first Governor of the Bank of England, conveyed to trustees two acres of land in Richmond Fields, so that work on the almshouses she had founded could continue. However, she died on 25th June 1758, less than a year after the agreement, thus rendering it void. Her sister Susannah, also unmarried, was her sole heir and, on 11th August 1758, confirmed the grant, and work on the almshouses continued.

The almshouses consisted of three 2-storey brick buildings arranged around three sides of a courtyard garden. They provided accommodation of two rooms each (one up and one down) for nine poor, elderly, unmarried women (principally widows) of the Protestant faith, who had lived "virtuous, sober and honest lives". Preference was given to poor decayed housekeepers who had paid scot and lot to the parish. A brick wall surrounded the buildings.

An endowment of sundry lands in Harrow, Middlesex, and Bollinhatch, Essex, and a capital of £1,050 in South Seas annuities provided an income of £150 a year towards the maintenance of the almswomen and the buildings.

Each almswoman received a monthly pension of 13 shillings (65p). Every Easter each received a new gown, to the value of £1, made of substantial stuff, dyed brown.

The rules governing the conduct of the almswomen were many and strict. Fines were imposed for offences such as non-attendance at church (3d - about 1p), blasphemy (ditto), abusive or uncharitable language or blows (3 shillings - 15p), or "tippling or drinking in any tavern, ale house or gin shop, or in any place where spirituous liquors are sold". This latter offence attracted a fine of 4d (1.6p) on the first occasion, 1 shilling (5p) for the second and, for the third, expulsion from the almshouses by the governors. The collected fines were dispersed equally among the almswomen who had not been fined on pension day.

The almshouses were further endowed by Susannah Houblon following her death in 1785.

In 1875, under an order of the Charity Commissioners, the trustees added two more almshouses at a cost of £195.

In 1877 part of the land owned by the Houblon Charity was let on a building lease, and 73 houses were built on it, together with a new road - Houblon Road.

By 1909 the monthly stipend had increased to £2. The almswomen still received a new dress annually, and also free medical attention.

In 1950 the buildings were listed Grade II*.

During the 1960s reconstruction work to provide individual bathrooms reduced the number of almshouses to nine.

In 1987 the Houblon Charity joined the Richmond Charities group.


Current status

The almshouses continue to be managed by Richmond Charities. New residents are accepted from the age of 65 upwards. There is no longer a requirement to be of the Protestant faith.

N.B. Photographs obtained in May 2020

Houblon's Almshouses

Whilst many almshouses have been rebuilt at some time in their history, these are the 18th century original buildings.

Houblon's Almshouses

The almshouses are enclosed behind a brick wall and a gate.

Houblon's Almshouses

The central building.

Houblon's Almshouses

A stone plaque mounted above the pedimented entrance bay states: These almshouses were erected and endowed by Mrs Rebecca and Mrs Susannah Houblon 1758.

References (Accessed 2nd February 2021)
(Author unstated) 1815-1939 Houblon's Almshouse. Reports of the Commissioners Appointed in Pursuance of Acts of Parliament 33, 625-627.
Brayley EW 1841 A Topographical History of Surrey, vol. 3. London, David Rogue, p.94.
https://libraryblog.lbrut.irg (1) (2)

Last updated 2nd February 2021

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