Jane Holmes, by her will dated1711, gave an annuity of 40 shillings, to arise out of a house with a garden, situated at Alverstoke, usually occupied as two tenements, to be let to ‘sober, orderly people‘, the yearly rent to be distributed among the poor widows of the parish. The rent was to be distributed on Christmas day at the vestry of Alverstoke Church, amongst poor widows in sums of 1 shilling or 1 shilling and six pence to each.
Two little cottages at the west end of the house were given to the church wardens and overseers for the use of poor widows of the parish, to be inhabited rent free by two poor widows placed there by the church wardens as vacancies occurred.
The will of Jane Holmes, which is now in the County Record Office, was proved in 1712 in the ‘peculiar’ jurisdiction of the Rector of Alverstoke; he was one of the few parochial clergy entitled to prove the wills of his parishioners. The cottages were maintained by the church.
By 1849 the two almshouses were again described as one cottage; they were then rebuilt in their present form for two widows by the church wardens, with the aid of two thank-offerings and other gifts. The tithe map of 1840 had shown the former building as not coming so far forward on the north side as the 1849 one does. To enable the 1849 building to be of sufficient size, the church made an informal exchange with the owner of the adjoining property: they acquired a strip of frontage land 15 ft. by 4 ft. and incidentally the site of the detached privy and a right of way to the latter; they gave up the almshouses garden, 15 ft. by 18 ft. which is now the left-hand part of the site the adjoining building.
In 1849 the Hampshire Advertiser newspaper reported that:
‘The almshouses in the centre of the village of Alverstoke, which have for some time past been unoccupied, and in a very dilapidated state, have just been thoroughly repaired, and prepared for the reception of two widows. An inscription over the front states that Holmes Almshouses were repaired by the churchwardens, assisted by two Thank offerings during the rectorship of the Rev. Walpole 1849.’
In 1855 the adjoining property was to be sold, and the above exchange was put on a formal basis and approved by the Charity Commission.
The almshouses are practically at the centre of old Alverstoke which has altered considerably since the 1850’s, yet the almshouses themselves are little changed.
In 1969 the Charity Commission reorganised the endowments as the ‘Alverstoke Trust and the Jane Holmes Charity’.
An incident at the Alms Houses
On Friday 28th October 1860 an inquest was held at the Five Bells, opposite the two Alms Houses, into the death of Sarah Luke aged 76. She resided together with an elderly woman called Munday at the two alms houses. The deceased was very infirm and could scarcely get about. On the previous Wednesday 26th she went upstairs into her room at about 8 and in a few minutes went down again. In about half an hour Mrs Munday, who was in her own room, heard no more of the deceased. On her getting up at 8 the following morning she saw the deceased lying at the foot of the stairs. She had on her bonnet and day clothes. She had a bruise on her face and blood was oozing from her mouth and nose. A statement from relatives of the deceased said that, due to her infirm condition, they had applied to have her admitted to the House Of Industry and would contribute to her support, but the application was refused.
Hampshire Advertiser Saturday 8th May 1847
Portsmouth Times Saturday 6th October 1860
‘Alverstoke Charities’ by Godfrey Williams: Gosport Records No.3 Pages 25 to 27 : January 1972
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