Sanchez's Almshouses

570-592 Tottenham High Road, N17 9TA


In July 1554 King Philip II of Spain travelled to London in order to marry Queen Mary I. Among the King's retinue was his 'comfit-maker' Balthasar Sanchez.

After a year and a half, the King deserted his wife and returned to Spain, but Sanchez remained in London and became a Protestant. A wealthy man by this time, he purchased Stone Leas (Stoneleys, Stoneleigh), an estate in Tottenham. He also owned a large house on the east side of the High Road, which later became an inn called the George & Vulture.

In his will dated 16th November 1599, Sanchez set aside 7 acres of land at Stone Leas on which to build almshouses for the elderly poor of Tottenham. They were to be built and endowed with money from his estate.

In the event, by 1600, two years before his death, Sanchez had built the almshouses himself. He left sums of money to endow them, as well as the Stone Leas estate and attached lands, to his brother-in-law and executor, Christopher Scurrow. In return, Scrurrow and all future owners of Stone Leas would be responsible for any repairs to the almshouses, and also obliged to pay each almsperson £2 year (payable in quarterly sums) and to give each one 15 shillings (75p) every second year for a frieze gown. The vicar, churchwardens and four other feoffees (trustees) were to appoint the almspeople and to manage the almshouses, visiting them on St Bartholomew's Day (24th August).

Sanchez also left money in his will to provide poor girls with dowries and young men with apprenticeships, as well as £100, the interest of which was to provide two dozen loaves of bread every Sunday for the poor of Tottenham.

The brick-built almshouses were in a single terrace under a shared roof. Each almsperson - 4 men and 4 women - had a single room and a small garden. Beneath the central gable of the terrace was a stone plaque with the inscription: 1600 - NOT UNTO US O LORD NOT UNTO US - BUT UNTO THY NAME GIVE YE GLORIE - PSALM 115.1 - BALTHASAR SANCHEZ BORN IN SPAYNE IN THE CITY OF SHEREZ IN ESTREMEDURA IS THE FOWNDER OF THESE EYGHT ALMES HOUSES OF THIS TOWNE OF TATTENHAM HIGH CRASSE.

By the mid 18th century the almshouses were considered to be the oldest such buildings in Tottenham.

In 1825 the almspeople each received 2 shillings (10p) a week following a bequest by Thomas Cooke. Pensions were augmented by further bequests through the 19th century.

In 1837 the brick floors of the almshouses were removed and replaced with boarded floors, paid for by subscriptions of a few inhabitants of Tottenham. Lobbies were also added to the front doors. Otherwise, Mr John Scales, the then owner of Stone Leas, kept the buildings in repair.

In 1868 there was discussion about rebuilding the almshouses, which were still habitable, but damp and inconvenient following the raising of the adjacent road. The discussions came to nothing and the almshouses continued in use at the beginning of the 20th century, following additional bequests from local benefactors. Each almsperson received an annual pension of £4 from the owners of the Stoneleigh estate, who also gave a biennial allowance of £6 to be shared by the inmates in lieu of the purchase of cloth coats and gowns.

In 1902, however, the Stoneleigh estate redeemed its liability for repair of the almshouses. They closed in 1909, pending rebuilding.

In 1919 the sale of the site was sanctioned.


Current status

The almshouses were demolished in 1925. Their site was then occupied by a shopping parade called Sanchez House, containing Burgess's department store. This in turn closed in 1980 and was demolished. It was replaced by the Tottenham Enterprise Store. Today the site is occupied by an Aldi supermarket, Fitness First and a row of small shops.

N.B. Photograph obtained in November 2020

Sanchez's Almshouses

An Aldi supermarket occupies most of the site.

References (Accessed 30th June 2021)

(Author unstated) 1826 Reports from Commissioners, Vol. 12. London, House of Commons, Parliament, 157-160.
(Author unstated) 2013 Buildings of Tottenham. Now and Then. London, Lightup Foundation, 16.
Couchman JW 1909 Reminiscences of Tottenham. London, self-published.
Robinson W 1840 The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Tottenham, Vol. 2. London, Nicholls & Son, 238-256.
https://freepages.rootsweb/com (1) (2) (1) (2) (3)

Last updated 30th June 2021

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