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  • Writer's pictureChris Winter

Almshouses in Wells (13)

Updated: Apr 30

Comprise Llewellyn’s and Charles’ established in 1636, Bubwith’s in St Cuthbert’s churchyard founded in 1436, and Harper’s on Chamberlain Street from 1726.

1. Llewellyn’s and Charles’ Almshouses

Established in 1636, these buildings date from 1887, with an older unit at the far end of the left-hand range. The style and layout, with its regularity and prominent chimneys, is reminiscent of traditional almshouse design, and creates a dignified urban space.

2. Wells Old Almshouses

In the churchyard, behind you, is the principal Wells group of buildings originally for ‘the indigent poor”. Bubwith’s, the oldest almshouse endowment in Somerset, was founded in 1436 by the bishop of that name, and include a chapel and Guildhall, still in use. Bubwith’s faces Chamberlain Street, with a projecting porch, which originally spanned a small waterway. Facing the church is the delightful small-scale range of Still’s founded in 1615, and behind them are Willes’ (1777) and Bricke’s (1637).

3. Harper’s almshouses

In Chamberlain Street are Harper’s Almshouses of 1726, now in private hands. The two-storeyed painted front retains two of the original stone-mullioned windows. A small tablet set into the front wall records the foundation for “…. 5 poor old decayed Wooll-combers of this parish ….” – a proviso which no longer applies. In the centuries before the introduction of the welfare state, almshouses (provided by private generosity) were important in taking care of elderly citizens; occupants had to be upright characters who had lived in the city, and has been regular attenders of the parish church of St Cuthbert.

The Wells Almhouses can be found around location 13 on this map
The Wells Almhouses can be found around location 13 on this map


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