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Isbury or Estbury Almshouses

 

 Isbury or Estbury Almshouses

 

 

The Isbury or Estbury Almshouses date from 1502 when John Estbury was granted a license by Henry VII to found a chantry and almshouses for ten old men in Lambourn. The chantry priest said prayers twice daily and taught poor boys to read and write.

When John Estbury died in 1508 he left all his lands and money to maintain the almshouses and the chapel of the Holy Trinity (in Lambourn church).

A few years later Henry VIII dissolved all chantries and appropriated their assets. The fate of the almsmen and their priest is not known.

In 1589 Queen Elizabeth ordered an inquiry which resulted in the return of the property and the restoration of the almshouses, but from thence on there was no priest. The almsmen continued to attend prayers in the Holy Trinity Chapel daily and this custom was kept up until late last century, with the head almsman reading a prayer.

Two supervisors were appointed to run the charity, the first being the Warden of New College, Oxford. The second supervisor undertook the day to day administration of the almshouses and the property.

By 1852 this post had been held by successive members of the Hippesley family of Lambourn Place. The supervisor at this time was Henry Hippesley who embarked on the rebuilding of the houses. The expense of this led to severe financial problems and a lengthy dispute involving the Charity Commission. Eventually the Charity Commission appointed Trustees to take over much of the administration of the almshouses and the property, although Henry Hippesley remained as an ex-­officio trustee and retained many of the ancient rights including the appointment of almsmen. The connection with the Hippesley family continued until 1960 when his granddaughter resigned.

Inside the Isbury or Estbury Almshouses

The finances of the Charity gradually recovered and 1954, partly financed by the sale of some oak trees, the trustees had the houses modernised. The number of houses was reduced to eight and bathrooms were included.

The Charity is now run by eight Trustees and still includes the Warden of New College. The financial income to the Charity is provided by its investments and the rent from farms that it owns.