Monken Hadley. Roger Wilbraham's Hospital

Colin Wilson

Sir Roger Wilbraham's memorial bust in Monken Hadley church. Jan 2017
Colin Wilson
Wilbraham's almshouse from the Green. The dedication stone is below the chimney. Jan 2017
Colin Wilson
The coat of arms and dedication plaque. Jan 2017
Colin Wilson
The dedication inscription. Jan 2017
Colin Wilson
The end of Wilbraham's almshouse. What was the square? A vent, decoration, or a former inscription? Jan 2017
Colin Wilson

These almshouse have been in use for over four centuries. They are built in the style that most people would recognise as almshouses, similar to Saunders’ almshouse at Flamstead and Pemberton’s almshouse at St Albans.

Roger Wilbraham built almshouses at Nantwich where he was born and at Monken Hadley where he had a country residence. Following his legal training at Cambridge, he rose to the rank of solicitor general, mainly in Ireland, in the reign of Elizabeth I and was knighted by James I in 1603. James also gave him the gateway of the Priory of St John of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, as a town residence. Sir Roger died in 1616, at the age of 63. He and his wife are buried at Monken Hadley. Their memorial is still in the church, although moved from its original location.

The Monken Hadley almshouse, known as a hospital, was built in 1612 according to the plaque on the front wall. Some sources cite 1616, but it was built before his will dated 1615. There was some endowment from the rents and profits from two houses in Clerkenwell. Others provided further endowments over the years.

The construction was of small bricks, only 5 bricks and 5 joints per 13” (though they are larger than those used in the church). A picture dating from 1794 is held at London Metropolitan Archives. The buildings were extended to the rear in 1815. LMA has a photo dated 1965. They are now listed by Historic England ref 1078821, as of 1949.

It was provided for six decayed housekeepers, all women, called Wilbraham’s Hospitallers in his will. An 1899 article cites the qualifications as ‘poor women of good character and who shall not during a period of five years at least should not have received poor law relief’. In 1907 each almswoman received £1 17s 6d a month, which amounted to £135 per year.

Rates have always been unpopular. In the late 19th and early 20th century the trustees were summonsed for not payment. Some appeals over the years were upheld, some were not. The charity at the time had little or no money to spare. Income and expenditure almost balanced at about £130, with a very small surplus, though this did not allow for repairs. The argument that they would have less to spend on the residents was not well accepted as anyone who paid rates would also have less money. The more interesting argument that the charity saved the local authority about the same as they paid in rates was listened to with more sympathy. If the almshouse was closed, the residents would have been transferred to the workhouse, thus involving a cost on the rates.

The issue of drainage was reported in the newspapers. There were two blocks of houses containing six people each, and those on Hadley Green were supplied with closet and cesspool, the overflow draining across Hadley Common. The other block was not so completely provided for, but the committee thought there was no necessity to interfere with them.

The Charity Commissioners had adopted a new scheme for governing the almshouses. One requirement was that 4 of the trustees should be representatives. The question arose as to whether ex officio officials were the best option, but it was decided that nothing adverse had been shown. However, one of the officers, Mr Venables, was required to resign in 1891 because he had an interest in some land which belonged to the almshouse. The matter was referred to the Charity Commissioners who agreed he was not eligible unless he gave up his rights to the land.

The case of 82 year old Martha Green is interesting as it throws some light on what may happen to those who became ill. She had become paralysed on one side and needed constant care. Two other inmates had cared for her but were now worn out. An application was made for her to be transferred to the Barnet hospital, or failing that the workhouse, as the charity could not afford to pay a nurse. Ideas discussed included leaving her room vacant so her benefit could still be paid or the Board of Guardians paying for a nurse. Previous residents had been sent to the infirmary or the workhouse. Near the end of the discussion was the comment that she had forfeited her right to stay in the almshouse as she was unable to keep her rooms clean and tidy – it sounds like a desperation argument. In the end the vote was divided so status quo was to be maintained. By 1902 there was a comment that the trustees had to provide medical attention, but to what extent is not recorded.

The Charity Commission does not clarify the position about these almshouses.  Roger Wilbraham for Six Widows ref 1006700 may refer to these almshouses. Registered in 1965, it was removed in 1992 due to amalgamation. The Wilbraham Hospital Charity ref 206122 is another possibility. It was removed in 2010.

But that is not the end of the story. In the same year, 2010, it became a linked charity ref 1075889-1 of Jesus Hospital Charity in Chipping Barnet. Readers are referred to that article.


Georef:       524878 197415
Grid Ref:    51o 39′ 42″N   0o 11′ 46″W
OS 25” map Hertfordshire XLV.3 (Arkley; Chipping Barnet; Hadley; Monken Hadley; Rowley; South Mimms Urban; South Mimms) Revised: 1896


Any websites accessed Oct 2020

Monken Hadley: Charities for the poor‘, by A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, Eileen P Scarff and G C Tyack, in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham, ed. T F T Baker and R B Pugh (London, 1976), pp. 270-271.Can be viewed online at British History Online

Barnet & Hadley Almshouses, by W H Gelder
pp 16-20
Barnet Press Group 1979

Historic England

London Metropolitan Archives (Collage)
is 1794 drawing

171776 is a 1965 photo

An extended biography of Sir Roger Wilbraham can be found at

Roger Wilbraham’s will (Probate 11 Nov 1616) can be viewed at The reference to the almshouses starts on line 6.

Charity Commission

Newspaper articles can be viewed on-line at British Newspaper Archive

Barnet Press Saturday 19 July 1884 page 6 col 3 records almshouse foundation
Herts Advertiser Saturday 10 June 1893 page 7 col 4 notes foundation with biographical notes.

Barnet Press Saturday 27 July 1895 page 4 col 7 election of inmate Ms Salmon
Barnet Press Saturday 28 May 1892 page 1 col 4 the case of Martha Green
Barnet Press Saturday 24 June 1899 page 5 col 5 election of an almswoman

Barnet Press Saturday 12 April 1890 page 6 the question of ex-officio trustees.
Barnet Press Saturday 17 January 1891 page 5 col 3 notes new scheme for governance.
Barnet Press Saturday 02 January 1892 page 5 col 4 obituary for E H Hay, a trustee.

Barnet Press Saturday 08 November 1902 page 6 col 4 rates payment reason
Barnet Press Saturday 23 March 1907 page 6 col 3 almshouse income and payments
Barnet Press Saturday 06 April 1907 page 6 col 5 trustees summoned for non-payment of rates.
Barnet Press Saturday 29 June 1907 page 6 col 5 reasons for not paying rates
Barnet Press Saturday 21 March 1908 page 6 col 3 matter of paying rates
Barnet Press Saturday 03 July 1909 page 6 col 5 appeal for poor rate exemption accepted.

Barnet Press Saturday 07 June 1884 page 6 drainage issues.
Barnet Press Saturday 05 November 1887 page 6 col 4 refers to the drainage issue

Barnet Press Saturday 16 July 1904 page 6 delivery of plants and flowers following a church service.
Barnet Press Saturday 14 May 1887 page 6 col 5 almswomen gave gifts to Agnes Hay on her wedding.
Herts Advertiser Saturday 10 June 1893 page 7 notes similarities with Pemberton and Saunders almshouses.

This page was added on 13/10/2020.

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