Chipping Barnet. John Garrett

Colin Wilson

Garrett's almshouses looking from the west. May 2017
Colin Wilson
Garrett's almshouses looking from the east. Note the date stones on the end wall. May 2017
Colin Wilson
The date stone on Garrett's almshouse. Looks like date 1734. May 2017
Colin Wilson
The stones recording restoration on Garrett's almshouse. May 2017
Colin Wilson
OS 25" map Hertfordshire XLV.3 1898, showing almshouses in the Wood Street area
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

John Garrett was a London merchant tailor. He lived at the end of the Stuart and start of the Georgian periods. There is a record of a John Garrett, son of Thomas Garrett, being buried at St Botolph’s, Aldersgate, in 1728, who may be the same person. Why he chose Chipping Barnet has not come to light.

There were a number of financial provisions. Garrett’s bequest of £800 in 1728 provided the land and construction of an almshouse for six women in Wood Street, close to Ravenscroft’s almshouse. The other half served as an endowment. Isaac Delafont bequeathed a 40 year Exchequer annuity of £36 a year in 1776. When that ceased in 1808 the income would be £12 a year, from Garrett’s £400. Fortunately in 1784 Ann Mills directed that Garrett’s would have a half share in the interest from £800 of stock, and £63 came from another source. The 1894 accounts show that Edward Hill’s bequest and Mrs William’s trust produced an income of about £90. This was supplemented by £64 from Jesus Hospital Charity (amounting to over a quarter of the income). There were other endowments, as noted by Cussans.

The site was originally copyhold, a normal procedure for that time. That means a copy of the title deed was given to the tenant, not the original, which was on the manorial court roll. It was enfranchised given the freehold) in 1862, then vested in the official trustee of charity lands in 1866.

The building style is what many would call a typical almshouse – a low single storey row. It is no surprise that by the end of the 19th century substantial repairs were needed and it was suggested that the best option would be to demolish and rebuild. Fortunately this option was not pursued, and significant restoration was undertaken in 1902. They were restored again in 1982. The building still exists, and is listed by Historic England. Images can be found at both Hertfordshire and London Metropolitan Archives.

The Barnet Charities Commission enquiry in 1895 was given the following information by Mr Stevens, the treasurer and clerk. ‘The houses contained a living room, and a small scullery and a coal cellar.  The property required repair……. The class of life the inmates generally belonged to was mostly a little above the labouring classes. The ages of the present inmates ranged from 61 to 79. No denominational or political preference was given. Each inmate received an allowance of 7s a week and £1 at Christmas from Fitzgerald’s Charity. There was a nice little piece of garden to each cottage. There was no provision for medical attendance or nursing in the case of illness’.

Like other similar institutions appeals for rate reduction were made to the local council on the basis that they couldn’t afford the rates, any funding deficiency had to be met by private subscription, and they saved the council money as they catered for women who would otherwise be a cost to the Council. The appeals did not always receive a favourable response.

The beneficiaries were poor old widows, inhabitants in or very near Barnet, and not receiving alms from the parish. Of note is Mrs Humberston. She was a resident for over 40 years, and died at the age of 102 in 1775. It was reported that she enjoyed excellent health and was in full possession of her faculties right to the end. It looks as if she died 1 day short of 102 – but at that age who’s counting? Her youngest daughter had then reached the age of 73. Emma Nightingale died in 1884. She was an unmarried woman who lived with her mother at Garrett’s Almshouses. This shows there was some leeway about who could live there. Gelder describes some who were not models of good behaviour. A woman had to be forcibly evicted in 1821 after refusing to leave. Her belongings would have been left in the street. In 1919 a sister was required to leave as she had provided false information about where she lived and her finances. There was nowhere else for her to go – but her demise solved the problem.

In 1887 plans were mooted for a cottage hospital in Barnet. The women in Garrett’s almshouses were recorded as giving 3d each. The Ravenscroft residents gave rather more – about 2s 6d each – but they received twice as much per week. Note that in 1898 the Garrett’s women received 7s a week, or 9s for a man and wife, reduced to 8s on the death of one. This is odd as the residents were supposed to be women. Maybe the writer misunderstood.

By 1949 funds had run out. Jesus Hospital Charity took on the almshouses and maintain them to this day.


Wood Street, Barnet
Georef:       524214 196433
Grid Ref:    51o 39′ 11″N    0o 12′ 22″W
OS 25” map Hertfordshire XLV.3 pub 1898


History of Hertfordshire, by J E Cussans
Page 57
Originally published Stephen Austin & Sons 1870-81
Republished E P Publishing in collaboration with Hertfordshire County Library 1972

Barnet & Hadley Almshouses, by W H Gelder
Pages 43 – 45
Pub Barnet Press Group 1979

The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford, ed William Page
Vol 2
Issued Archibald Constable & Co. 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0476 X
This publication is available online at
See also

Items at Archives


DE/Bt/Q39 – 43 Date 1890 – 1916
Documents related to Garrett’s almshouses

DE/Of/2/40 (nd c1785 – 1805)
Views of Garret’s Almshouses and Ravenscroft’s Almshouses in colour

London Metropolitan Archive
Collage 31545 Lysons’ Environs of London 1794
Catalogue No k1249724

Websites accessed Aug 2022

Historic England


Newspapers. These are not all the references. Please see the linked document for transcriptions and further items. This information can also be viewed on the British Newspaper Archive website

Herts Advertiser 09 June 1877 page 7 col 1 Mrs Humberston

Barnet Press 09 February 1884 page 5 col 5 Emma Nightingale

Barnet Press 28 May 1887 page 5 col 1 List of subscribers for new cottage hospital

Barnet Press 11 May 1889 page 3 col 4 Statement of the accounts

Barnet Press 05 November 1898 page 7 col 2 Possible rebuilding

Barnet Press 22 April 1899 page 7 col 2. Request to be excused rates

Barnet Press 21 March 1908 page 6 col 3. Request to be excused rates

Barnet Press 04 May 1895 page 5 col 2 Useful article about endowment, qualifications and advertising

Barnet Press 03 August 1901 page 4 col 7 Garrett’s Almshouses sum not exceeding £4OO for repairing the buildings, and yearly sum not exceeding £3 4s for raising the pension – “stipend” as it is called – to 6s per week


This page was added on 29/08/2022.

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