Richard Platt's Almshouses

Summerhouse Lane, Aldenham, Herts WD25 8DU


In 1596 Richard Platt, a brewer living in the parish of St James Garlickhythe in the City of London, obtained Letters Patent from Queen Elizabeth I to build a free grammar school and six almshouses on his land at Boydens Hill, Aldenham, an area where he had spent his childhood.

The foundation stones for both buildings were laid in 1597, which were completed shortly afterwards. The school was small, and the schoolmaster acted as warden for the almshouses. The almshouses themselves were a 2-storey terrace sharing the same roof, with two central doors and two at each end of the building. Each almshouse contained two rooms and each had a small garden.

Residents of the almshouses could be of either sex, usually aged over 70 years, who had lived in Aldenham for at least seven years (although exceptions could be made). The kinsmen of Richard Platt were given preference. They also had to be of good name, of Godly behaviour and known to have worked for their livings. Married couples (both partners had to be over the age of 70 years) were also admitted, but received the same accommodation and pension as a single almsperson (who were not allowed to marry while resident, on pain of being expelled).

While they lived in the almshouses rent-free, the residents had to abide by certain rules. They were obliged to attend a daily service in the chapel attached to the almshouses, as well as the twice daily prayers. They were not allowed outside their homes after 7 o'clock in the evening in winter, 9 o'clock in summer. They could not spend more than three nights a year away from their homes without permission of the warden. The outside yards had to be swept daily, otherwise a penny fine would be imposed, shared by all the residents. On the death of a resident, their effects became the property of the almshouses.

In 1599, a year before Platt's death on 28th December 1600, the almshouses were conveyed to the Brewers Company.

In 1865, following major expansion of the school, replacement almshouses were built at Delrow, about a mile to the west of Boydens Hill. At the same time another school - the Delrow Boys Elementary School - was built next-door to them, replacing the Aldenham Lower School, which was in a poor state of repair.

The 1881 Census showed the occupants of the almshouses to be three widows, two married couples and one widower.

By the mid 1880s the age limit for admission had been lowered to 50 years.

In 1927 the occupants numbered seven, aged between 70 and 91 years.

In 1980 the buildings were Grade II listed.

By 1983 the almshouses were judged to be substandard and the last resident moved out.

Current status

The buildings were sold in August 1986, with the proceeds going to the Richard Platt Relief-in-Need Charity. The almshouses have been converted into one residence.

N.B. Photographs obtained in September 2020

Richard Platt's Almshouses

The 1-storey building is now a private residence. 

Richard Platts Almshouses

The arms of Richard Platt are mounted above the two central doors.

References (Accessed 16th September 2020)

Bird WH 1937 Heraldry and Brewers' Hall. Journal of Institute of Brewing 43, 490-506. (1) (2)

Last updated 27th March 2021

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