Aldenham. Platt, Brewers and Delrow

Colin Wilson

Richard Platt's almshouse at Aldenham. Drawing by J C Buckler (1825 - 30)
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies ref DE/Bg/4/94
Richard Platt's almshouse at Delrow. 2017
Colin Wilson
Richard Platt's arms on the front of the building. 2017
Colin Wilson
The 1908 rules of Platt's almshouse
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies ref D/P3/25/2
Sketch map showing the location of Richard Platt's almshouse at Delrow.

‘Crased [worn out] in body but in perfect memory’ was how Richard Platt described himself when he wrote his will. A brewer living in Garlickhythe, London, Richard was the proprietor of the Old Swan brewery in the parish of Garlickhythe. He was master of the Brewers Company in 1576 and 1581. He owned land in Aldenham, where he grew up.

His wish was to be buried in Garlickhythe church near his wife and son. The church is just down the road from Mansion House. It was rebuilt following the Great Fire of 1666, but the vaults and chancel were cleared and closed in 1839.

Along with Dame Alice Owen and James Hickson, Platt was one of the three main benefactors of the Brewers Company, a guild dating back to 1438. His arms are on display at Brewers Hall. His portrait can be found in ‘Elstree and Borehamwood Past’, by Robert Bard page 76; there may be a portrait at Aldenham School.


Platt’s almshouses were to be used ‘for the relief and maintenance of poor aged and impotent Persons and such as by reason of their age and other infirmities are not able to relieve themselves by their trade and labours’.

He did not mind if they were men, women, married, single or widowed, but they were not to marry after admittance upon pain of deprivation. Married couples had the same room, habitation, relief and pension of 1 almsbody, and no more. No children could be admitted without permission. No-one with a disease was to be admitted.

Almspeople had to be of good name and fame, of godly conversation and behaviour, and known as having worked for their livings when younger. They needed to have been inhabitants of Aldenham for 7 years (but special cases could be considered).

Almspeople should be over the age of 70, but could be to be admitted at a younger age if thought fit by impotence. Married couples both had to be over 70, unless there were special causes for younger people.  From at least the 1860s the lower age limit was 50 years.


Platt’s kindred were to be given preference. Interestingly, one of the early almspeople was the Widow Platt. There is no information as to whether or not she was a relation. However, she was one of the exceptions to the rule that almspeople’s effects had to be passed to the almshouse on their deaths.

In 1881 the residents were 2 married couples, 3 widows and 1 widower. One had lived in the parish for 10 years; the others had lived there over 40 years or all their lives. An article in the Herts Advertiser and St Albans Times Sep 18 1926 is probably the earliest picture of the almspeople, 7 in number, then aged between 70 and 91.


Divine service and prayers were to be said twice a day in the chapel at the end of the almshouses. All almspeople had to attend unless they were sick or had a good excuse.
They could not be absent for more than 3 nights a year without the consent of the Custos.
Due hours were to be kept; almspeople could be out no later than 7 o’clock in Winter or 9 o’clock in Summer.
The yard and court had to be swept daily, otherwise there was a penny fine, which was to be shared among the other poor people.
No non-family sick persons could stay unless with the consent of the Custos.
The Custos was required to be observant and careful.

The Aldenham Almshouse

Platt obtained letters patent from Elizabeth I in 1596 allowing him to build a school and 6 almshouses at Aldenham. The site was land at Boydens Hill which Platt had inherited. An 1832 illustration of the almshouses by Buckler can be found at HALS,

They were conveyed to the Brewers Company in 1599, not long before his death in 1600, along with endowments for their continuation. As with Hickson’s almshouse, further endowments were made by Neiman and others.

The master of the school acted as the custos (or warden) of the almshouses. In those days the school was small, with the pupils lodging with the master.

The Delrow Almshouse

Replacement almshouses were built at Delrow in 1864-5 as more space was needed for the school. The almshouses were next to a school.

A copy of the almshouse rules is kept at Hertfordhire Archives.

The last almsperson left the almshouses in 1983, by which time the buildings were deemed substandard for such accommodation. They were sold in August 1986, the resultant funds being transferred to the Richard Platt Relief-in-Need Charity.

The buildings still exist under private ownership. They are grade II listed by Historic England, ref 1173191 as of 21st Jan 1980. Platt’s coats of arms are to be found on the end of the building and over the central doors.

Building Specifications for Delrow

Job specifications for various tradespeople can be found in a document deposited at Guildhall Library (MS7297)Specification for Sundry Works Erecting and Finishing the Almshouses at Aldenham). The close attention to detail is interesting. Examples include:
Each kitchen to have a dresser 3ft 6in long of a value of 25/- each.
There are to be 6 coppers of 15” diameter.
Cooking stoves with over 33” openings
Stoves with double backs with 24” openings.
Wallpaper to be 1d per yard.
Two wells or water tanks to be 5ft diameter and 12ft deep.
The WC to have a seat of 1” and a riser on proper bearers.
I cesspools to be 4ft by 10ft deep, and to be connected to the WCs

One small detail is a letter about the late Miss Clark in 1947. It notes that the bed, blankets and some furniture belonged to the Brewers Company.

Richard Platt Relief-in-Need Charity

A charity named the Richard Platt Relief-in-Need Charity has continued to distribute the funds in a more flexible manner, to help needy residents of the parish. This charity is administered by the Brewers Company (Charity Commission ref 215544).


Address:                Summerhouse Lane, Radlett, Watford Herts WD25 8DU
Georef:                  514426 197878
Grid reference:    51o 40′ 06″N   0o 20′ 47″W
OS 25″ map Hertfordshire XXXIX.15 1914


Various documents deposited at Guildhall Library, by kind permission of the Brewers Company (see attached document).

Information supplied by Jerome Farrell, Brewers’ Company archivist.

Particulars of the scheme and of the management of the almshouses at Delrow can be found set out in the Company’s Return to the Livery Companies Commission appointed in 1880 (Appendix to Report, 1884, vol. iii. p. 125)

The Worshipful Company of Brewers, a Short History
pub Hutchinson Benham © Brewers Company 1977

Elstree and Borehamwood Past, by Robert Bard
Pub Historical Publications 2006 ISBN 1-905286-11-2

The History & Antiquities of the County of Hertford, by R Clutterbuck
Pages 143-4
Printed by and for John Bowyer Nichols, 25 Parliament Street, London London 1827

The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford Ed William Page
vol 2 p 161
Issued Archibald Constable & Co 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0476 X
Available online at

Documents held at HALS

DE/Of/1/145 (c1700-1800) Oldfield: View of “Almshouses” seven in colour

DP/12/29/12 nd mid 20th century. Papers relating to the almshouses at Aldenham

DP/3/25/2 1839 – 1947. Includes photograph, rules for inmates, map of drainage system, copy of deed of foundation, etc. Mainly Stuart charity, also scheme for the management of the Richard Platt Alms Charity

DP/3/25/12 1813 – 1939. Miscellaneous papers concerning schools at Aldenham and Elstree. Includes extracts from Richard Platt’s rules 1599, and copy correspondence concerning letters patent for erecting Aldenham Grammar School and almshouses, 38 Eliz I

DE/Bg/4/94 (1835-1840) Buckler drawing of Aldenham, Platt’s Almshouses (1832)

DZ/119 Grangerised copy of Robert Clutterbuck’s History a… (1640 – c1841)

DZ/119/2: almshouses and Free Grammar School, Aldenham

DP/3/25/11 (1860) Copy of letters patent for the foundations of Aldenham Grammar School and almshouses 38 Eliz I and of Richard Platt’s Rules and Orders, etc

D/P3/25/2 stored at HALS include the 1908 rules and a letter about Miss Clark. Note these have been included in a collection about the Roundbush almshouses

Websites accessed May 2018 includes a summary of Platt’s will, as enrolled in November 1600.

The information about where he grew up was found at

Newspapers can be viewed on the British Newspaper Archive website

Herts Advertiser 06 July 1872 page 5 col 7 James Dollin, sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for indecently assaulting a 9 year old girl

Herts Advertiser 26 April 1884 page 7 col 2 The Rev. C. L. Royds caused much laughter in his reading of “Almshouses London 1729.” He said that the inhabitants there welcomed the governing body who visited them as it meant a sovereign and a pound of tea for each. He also referred to the almshouse pump

Watford Observer 26 January 1895 page 6 col 2 Mr. Part asked if the almshouses would be handed over to the Parish Council. The Chairman was of opinion that the almshouses were a parish charity. Mr. Kennedy stated that they were founded and supported by the Platt Charity, and that the Brewers Company were the trustees. It was ultimately agreed that the Charity Commissioners should be written to respecting the appointment of additional trustees.

Watford Observer 23 November 1901 page 4 col 6
Letters Patent granted by Queen Elizabeth to Richard Richard Platt Esq to found a Grammar School and almshouse [Document presented to Herts County Museum by Sir John Evans]

Herts Advertiser 21 March 1903 page 6 col 6
Mr Sersale raised the question of the Almshouses under the Platt Trust. Under the scheme there was a payment of £2OO. and a saving of between £30 and £4O seem to have been effected each year until at the present time there seemed to be a balance of over £400. Under the new order there was £10000 2½% Consoles set aside for the almshouses. That would bring in about £250 a year so that if from £20 to £30 a year was saved out of £200 a little more would be saved out of the £230. He would like to see the parish Council represented on the management of those almshouses, and he believed it could be done by application to the Charity Commissioners. Then they would know a little how some things were going on, and possibly, out of that accumulation of funds, build some more almshouses.

Watford Observer 27 June 1903 page 12
Charity Commission should be requested to allow the Council to be represented upon the Board of Management of the Brewers Company’s Almshouses at Delrow. Various accounts were passed the Council.

Herts Advertiser 22 August 1903 page 8 col 2
A letter was received from the Charity Commissioners pointing out that the parish Council was not entitled to be represented on the governing body of the Almshouses. It was unanimously resolved that the clerk should write again to the Charity Commissioners requesting that body to allow the Parish Council to be represented on the governing body of the Brewers’ Almshouses

Herts Advertiser 02 April 1904 page 8 col 2
The following reply from the Clerk to the governing body of the Platt’s almshouse was received – Now that under the amended scheme the Almshouses have separate endowment. it will be possible to deal with any balance either by investment placing balance deposit. ln previous years the balance has had to be drawn upon all through the year to meet current expenses, the Trust not being able to pay the £200 till the receipt of the ground-rents at the end of the year …

Herts Advertiser 07 April 1906 page 3 col 7
Canon Gibbs further stated that a Nurses Home would built shortly at the Brewer’s Company’s almshouses, and that this would make room for another occupant in the almshouses themselves

Watford Observer 19 January 1907 page 5
The order for the administration of the Platt almshouse charity was laid upon the table. General regret was expressed that the Charity Commission had adopted only one of the Council’s suggestions, viz. the extension of leave of absence from 24 hours to seven days

Herts Advertiser 23 November 1907 page 8 col 7
Councillor J J Nolan drew the attention of the Council to the unexpended funds in the hands of the Governors of the Platt Almshouses, and further thought that the Council should represented on the governing body. Acting upon the suggestion of Councillor Cooper a committee of five was appointed to go into the whole question and report back.

Watford Observer 15 February 1908 page 5
As the Charity Commlssioner contemplated the appointment of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan, jun. as trustee of the Platt Almshouses, the Council unanimously decided to protest to the Commission on the grounds that he was absent from England for long …


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