Jesus Hospital

62-72 Wood Street, Barnet, EN5 4BW


In 1672 James Ravenscroft, a lawyer and merchant, together with his wife Mary, established six almshouses in Wood Street to provide accommodation for elderly widows or spinsters.

The almshouses consisted of a single-storey terrace. One of the six almswomen, who were called 'Sisters' was nominated to be the 'Governess'. In her dwelling, in accordance with his will, were placed marble busts of James and Mary Ravenscroft, with an inscription under each.

On 20th April 1679, the year before his death at the age of 85, James incorporated by deed his almshouses by the name of Jesus Hospital (he had been a graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge). He endowed the Hospital with a piece of pasture - Fourteen Acre Close in Stepney - measuring 10 acres and 3 roods, which was then rented out at £34 a year.

With careful management of the estate and the almshouses, the elected trustees, known as 'Visitors', enlarged the gift. When 358 properties were built on the Stepney land in the 19th century, the income greatly increased.

In 1887 the almshouses were rebuilt.

During WW2 (1939-1945) the railings in front of the almshouses were removed for the war effort. They were never replaced.

By the mid 20th century the Stepney estate had become increasingly more expensive to maintain. The Visitors decided to sell it and, in 1980, were able to take advantage of an offer from the GLC, which wished to acquire land in the area. The proceeds from the sale were reinvested, with £255,000 used to purchase shops and offices in the Whetstone area. Residental properties in Wood Street and Union Street were also purchased in the early 1980s and rented out.

In 1990 the rear extensions were rebuilt. The almshouses have been modernised.


Current status

The buildings are Grade II listed. They are owned and managed by the Jesus Hospital Charity.

N.B. Photographs obtained in January 2020

Jesus Hospital

The almshouses were rebuilt in the 19th century.

Jesus Hospital

Only the central archway in front, the gable and the gate piers are the original ones. The gate piers have carved stones mounted on them - 'JR on one and '1679' on the other.

In 1964 a stone plaque with a pediment was erected above the central archway as a replica of the original one, which had become illegible over time. It is inscribed in Latin. The English translation is: To God the Greatest & the Best. This little hospice will remain a place of safety, a permanent memorial of thankfulness to God & of Love for the needy, established by James Ravenscroft, gentleman, and Mary his wife in the year of man's salvation, 1672. May the blessed one Bless it. May it be blessed by those blessed by it.

References (Accessed 15th May 2022)

Cass FC 1881 Queen Elizabeth's School at Chipping Barnet, A.D. 1573-1665. London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 76.
Lysons D 1811 The Environs of London, Vol 1. London, Cadell and Davies, 756.
Webb Y 2017 The Jesus Hospital Almshouses. Barnet History Journal 1, 19-21. (1) (2) (3) (1) (2)

Last updated 21st May 2022

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