Christ's Hospital - a short history
Today, the refurbished memorial tablet on the chimney above the building gives a potted history of the buildings that have occupied this site.
Originally there was a leper hospital – St Laurence’s Hospital – on the site in the early 13th century (1227) and the first Christ’s Hospital was founded there in 1312, and then re-founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1597 for “36 unmarried and maimed soldiers dwelling in the town”. The building was of Tudor design and the plot extended down to the River Ouse. By 1665 the “36 soldiers” had been replaced by “seven ancient women”.
The income of Christ’s Hospital was derived from the profits of two fairs held annually in the town, together with the profits of the local wool markets but clearly the money was insufficient because by the late 19th century, 300 years later, the building had become very dilapidated and insanitary. It was decided to replace it with what is now the present block which was built in 1897 – in the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria – at a cost of £843 7s 9d or roughly £100,000 in today’s money.
Buckingham Almshouses and Welfare Charity has administered the almshouses, as they are termed, for a number of years. Again, in common with our ancestors in the late 19th century, by 2006/7 it was apparent that the building was falling into disrepair, was not really fit for purpose in the modern age and needed extensive refurbishment.
A survey in March 2008 confirmed the actual work that needed doing and the refurbishment project gradually gathered pace. Six years, and half a million pounds later, the project ended with the excellent result that we have now - and the handover and practical completion took place on 14th February 2014 with the first residents returning a couple of weeks later.
The memorial plaque for the refurbishment work refers to Queen Elizabeth II and so on this single building are recorded the names of probably the three greatest Queens in English history.
Roger Harrington, 20/03/2015