Bushey. George Reveley
Legal technicalities and time constraints nearly caused this almshouse project to fail. George Reveley, a lawyer, left £1500 for 10 almshouses, with a further £10,000 as an endowment. That was worth about £750,000 in 2017 prices, and amounted to nearly half his estate which was recorded as under £25,000. The relevant part of Reveley’s will is included in Hertford Mercury and Reformer Saturday 27 April 1878.
It seems he tried to transfer some land but died only a few months after drafting his will, before the transfer could be completed. An ancient Statute of Mortmain – the taxman’s attempt to prevent legal tax avoidance – was invoked. The will included a 2 year clause, when the gift would lapse. It took some effort by George Lake to raise funds from public donations to purchase suitable land and to deal with the legalities in time. The next matter was the number of trustees. More had been appointed than was normal and it seems the number was reduced.
Public meetings were arranged from time to time when the legalities and plans were discussed and finally agreed. The original architect died so another had to be appointed. Tenders were invited for building the almshouses. None came below the £1500 limit. They ranged from £2675 to £1725, the preferred tender of £1795 being submitted by Foreman.
The accommodation was small, being two rooms with outhouses. Again, there was discussion as to its suitability. Comments were made that elderly people would find it difficult using the privies at the end of the garden in winter. They may well need care and there was insufficient room for a live-in carer.
The opening ceremony was different from many others. Schoolchildren were entertained to what was more like a fete with sideshows, bands and food. There was, of course, the speech to the children, but it wasn’t too long and the children returned to the fun. The Committee held its own celebratory dinner the following year.
It seems that the first residents had to have a link with Bushey for 10 years. At some time 5 years became sufficient. Applicants need to be at least 60 years of age. The provision was meant for those who had fallen on hard times, not the pauper class. One discussion was that the provision should be for women only, as they far outnumbered men and that men could still earn a living while it would be extremely difficult for widows to do so. Married couples were allowed 12s (about £40 in 2017) a week, single persons 8s (about £27), though this was discussed at times. If a spouse died the survivor could continue in the almshouse, but would be required to leave on remarriage.
The local rector had the main right of nomination but there was also a committee involved. There are newspaper notices about appointments and deaths which give some detail about the beneficiaries, such as former publicans. Friends of Bushey Museum Journal has an article about a resident’s previous employment by the local council in the 1940s. The time between someone’s death and a replacement being appointed seems to be about 2 months.
There is a plaque describing the foundation on the corner end of the buildings. The buildings themselves are not of the status to merit listing by Historic England, but are in the Bushey High Street conservation area. There is a 1995 document protecting them from much alteration. This was at a time when significant repairs were being planned.
A letter by Mrs P Stockwell Hertfordshire Countryside is interesting. Her grandmother, Mrs Darvill, was the nurse at the almshouses from 1918 till 1934. Mrs Pleasance said she used to run errands each day, and had to be careful with the pennies.
The current facility is for 9 dwellings and a warden’s accommodation.
The almshouses are affiliated to the Almshouse Association and registered with the Charity Commission, ref 205904.
Park Road & Herkomer Road, Bushey WD23 3EB
Georef: 513340 195453
Gridref: 51 36′ 48″N 0 21′ 48″W
OS map 25” Hertfordshire XLIV.7 (Bushey) rev 1896 pub 1898
The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford ed. William Page
Vol 2 p186
Issued Archibald Constable & Co 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 (ISBN 0 7129 0476 X)
Available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol2/pp179-186
Victorian Almshouses in Hertfordshire, by James A Vyse
A Building Conservation thesis for A A Building Conservation course 1982 – 4
A copy is held at HALS
1995 document about the conservation area. https://www.hertsmere.gov.uk/Documents/09-Planning–Building-Control/Building–Tree-Conservation/Conservation-Areas/Art4-1-10-Reveley-Almshouses-Park-Road-Herkomer-Road.pdf
George Johnson Reveley’s probate record. Effects under £25000. Looking at other wills of the same date he was wealthy. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/1904/images/31874_222682-00077?treeid=&personid=&rc=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=zNI51&_phstart=successSource&pId=3128377&backurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ancestry.co.uk%2Fsearch%2F%3Fname%3Dgeorge%2Bjohnstone_reveley%26event%3D_hertfordshire-england-united%2Bkingdom_5268%26death%3D1877
Friends of Bushey Museum Journal 1st Series – No. 6 – Winter 1992 p12. Bushey in the late 1940s Ivy Hassell, who lived in the Reveley Almshouses, recalls her time as a Council employee in the late ’40s,.The article about her life but does not mention the almshouses.
Hertfordshire Countryside vol 25 No 142 Feb 1971 pp21-2
Newspapers. These articles can be viewed via the British Newspaper Archive website
Watford Observer Saturday 20 April 1878 page: 4 col 6-7
Hertford Mercury and Reformer Saturday 27 April 1878 page: 4 col 3. This article includes the relevant section of Reveley’s will.
Watford Observer Saturday 01 June 1878 page 4 col 7
Watford Observer Saturday 31 July 1880 page 4
Watford Observer Saturday 23 October 1880 page 4
Watford Observer Saturday 30 October 1880 page 1. Detailed report of meeting. One of the more useful articles.
Watford Observer Saturday 13 November 1880 page 3
Watford Observer Saturday 26 February 1881 page 4
Watford Observer Saturday 26 March 1898 page 4 col 3 mentions the statute of Mortmain and the size of the accommodation.
Herts Advertiser Saturday 08 March 1884 page 8 col 3. Planned fundraising event
Watford Observer Saturday 17 September 1881 page 4
Watford Observer Saturday 03 June 1882 page 4
Watford Observer Saturday 06 January 1883 page 4 col 5-6
Hertford Mercury and Reformer Saturday 13 January 1883 page 4 col 6
Herts Advertiser Saturday 14 June 1884 page 8 col 2. Describes the opening celebrations
Herts Advertiser Saturday 18 April 1885 page 5. Notes the Committee dinner.
APPOINTMENTS and DEATHS
Watford Observer Saturday 03 May 1890 page 4 col 4. 8 died in first 6 years, including Thomas Pryke age 74
Watford Observer Saturday 09 February 1884 page 4 col 1. William Andrew of Three Crowns Inn appointed
Herts Advertiser Saturday 07 November 1891 page 5. Mrs. Tooley died. Mr. and Mrs. Narroway were elected
Herts Advertiser Saturday 19 March 1892 page 5 William Andrews died
Herts Advertiser Saturday 07 May 1892 page 5. Replacement for William Andrews elected.
Watford Observer Saturday 03 December 1892 page 4 col 3. Henry Dean appointed following death of Mrs Butcher
Herts Advertiser Saturday 10 December 1892 page 5
Watford Observer Saturday 14 October 1893 page 4. Mr Narraway died
Watford Observer Saturday 02 February 1901 page 8 col 3. Mrs. Harrington appointed.
Watford Observer Saturday 26 January 1907 page 5 col 4. Mrs Young dies aged 77. Formerly ran Old Red Lion. Lived in almshouse for 6 years.
Watford Observer Saturday 24 March 1888 page 6 col 5. Notes effect of tax changes.
Watford Observer Saturday 24 November 1888 page 6 col 4-5 includes information about George Lake
Watford Observer Saturday 31 December 1892 page 5. Mr Attenborough and Mr Palmer supplied beef, and coal and plum pudding respectively.
Watford Observer Saturday 02 September 1893 page 5. Mrs. Attenborough arranged an outing.
Watford Observer Saturday 28 August 1909 page 5 col 4. Mrs. Montague Hall arranged an outing.
Watford Observer Saturday 05 May 1894 page 6 col1. John Dean aged 67 won a prize at the annual May Hay and Horse show, and is still working for Mr Fowler