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HISTORY HELP: Donations needed to save 300-year-old Berkhamsted almshouses

 Published on: 4th June 2023   |   By: Darius Morgan   |   Category: Uncategorized

The Berkhamsted community is being asked to help prevent housing that has provided refuge for women for hundreds of years from falling into disrepair.

The John Sayer Almshouses were built in the town in 1684 and were named after King Charles II’s very own head cook. Sayer remained loyal to the monarchy even during the King’s period of exile during the English Civil War, and was honoured when the King was restored to his throne in 1660.

Sayer is also mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary, who recalls enjoying a good slice of beef and drinking so much wine with the “master cook” that he was “not fit for business”.

In John Sayer’s will, he bequeathed £1,000 in trust “for the building of an almshouse and the purchasing of lands for the relief of the poor in Berkhamsted St Peter”. The first inhabitants were six widows, and the almshouses have provided housing for women in need ever since.

Currently, the bungalows are still only available for Christian women with ties to Berkhamsted, but clerk of the John Sayer Almshouse charity Hilary Armstrong is looking to open this up in the future.

Hilary said: “Not many people know we’re here; we need to raise our profile if we are to survive. Any donation is welcome and would help maintain these 340-year-old buildings and continue to help those in need.”

Pat, who has lived in the almshouse since 2007, said: “It’s helped me so much. It’s incredible to be right on the High Street, in the thick of things.”
To support the charity, visit their fundraiser.

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