In January 1838 Henricus Octavus Roe, a maltster in High Street, attended a local meeting as he wanted to erect 2 almshouses at the back of the existing Wynne’s almshouses. They would be for 2 married couples, not less than 50 years of age, who were members of the established church. It would be at his expense, with an endowment of £200 consols to be in the name of existing trustees. The right to nominate inmates would be vested in the Wynne’s trustees.
They were discreetly tucked in along Pepper Alley, behind Wynne’s almshouse. While researching them it seemed the sources were going round in circles as they kept going back to the site of Wynne’s almshouses. A site visit resolved the issue – at last. While the endowment stone cites the building as 1838, Victoria County History indicates it was 1851, the date Roe made his last will.
The endowment funds were held by the official trustees, who also held a sum of £1,051 1s. 2d. consols, known as Roe’s Almshouse Foundation, producing £26 5s. 4d. yearly, to be distributed half-yearly between two married couples. By his will dated 1851, Henricus gave £606 4s 10d to Wynne’s Almshouses; and £404 3s 4d towards the two almshouses he had built during his lifetime, and had already endowed them with £622 10s 8d. This was added to under the will of Mrs Emma Pryor in 1885 to the tune of £98 17s. 9d. consols.
The United Almshouse Charities made a draft agreement with Baldock UDC in 1912 for alterations to both Wynne’s and Roe’s almshouses. Each unit was to have its own kitchen, WC and bathroom with a constant hot water supply. New staircases would give access to the first floor for storage & cooking of food, and the storage of fuel. Electricity and gas would be installed for lighting and heating, along with an internal water supply.
By 1950 it was apparent that modernisation was needed for both Wynne’s and Roe’s almshouses. This work was completed by 1960.
The property is now in private hands and has been converted to a single dwelling. The agent’s notes when offering the lease for sale in 2018 indicate the building contains some of its original structure.
Octavus also built almshouses at Weston and at Stotfold (in Bedfordshire). A minor point of interest is the beehive-like emblem on the Baldock and Weston buildings which does not appear at Stotfold. The two Hertfordshire buildings are very similar architecturally; the Stotfold one is very different. Photos of the Stotfold building have been included for completeness.
Roe was responsible for many charitable foundations during his lifetime, and much of his estate was donated to other charitable causes. Roe Almshouse Charity was removed from the Charity Commission register in 1997 as it ceased to exist, but it was part of the United Almshouse Charity.
Thanks are due to the vicar of St Mary’s for his permission to take photographs within the site.
OS map 25″ Hertfordshire VII.8 Revised: 1897, Published: 1898 shows the buildings
Georef: 524549 233707
Grid ref: 51o 59′ 17″N 0o 11′ 16″W
History of Hertfordshire, by John Edwin Cussans
vol 2 p19
Originally published Stephen Austin & Sons 1870-81
Republished E P Publishing in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Library 1972
The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford. Ed William Page
Vol 3 p73
Issued Archibald Constable & Co 1912. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 (ISBN 0 7129 0477 8)
This publication been digitised by British History Online (BHO) and is available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp65-73
HALS ref DP/12/29/12
nd mid 20th century
Baldock, St Mary the Virgin parish records
Includes draft agreement between Baldock Urban District Council and the Trustees of the United Almshouse Charities in the parish of Baldock (c1960)
https://www.newsnow.co.uk/classifieds/houses-flats-for-sale/almshouses-for-sale.html accessed 29aug 2018. As this is an estate agent’s site the Roe almshouse listing did not remain on the site.
https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search/-/charity-details/3757. Removed Dec 1997 as ceased to exist. Linked with United Almshouse Charities
Refs 12 and 14 are both Baldock
H O Roe’s will can be viewed on-line (as at Feb 2021) at https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/5111/images/40611_311562-00098?treeid=&personid=&rc=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=uVY24&_phstart=successSource&pId=692181
County Press p3 14 Nov 1854 Death notice of H O Roe, died 4 Nov age 93.
Herts & Cambs Reporter & Royston Crow Friday 06 November 1908
There is a reference page 3 col 6
https://www.north-herts.gov.uk/sites/northherts-cms/files/baldock_register_of_buildings_of_local_interest_pdf.pdf is a list of important Baldock buildings. It includes a note that Roe was a maltster. Site accessed Jun 2021