Hitchin. William Brown

Colin Wilson

14 - 20 Old Charlton Road. Note dedication stone extreme right of picture. Apr 2017
Colin Wilson
The dedication stone for Brown's almshouse. Reads 'The William Brown Almshouses Completed 1938'. Apr 2017
Colin Wilson
15 - 18 Wratten Road East. Apr 2017
Colin Wilson
Entrance to Brown's almshouse. 28 & 30 Old Charlton Road in the distance. Apr 2017
Colin Wilson
Part of the wall in Wratten Road. Was this an original entrance? The wall in Old Charlton Road is similar. Apr 2017
Colin Wilson
OS 1:2500 map TL1828 pub 1966 showing location of Brown's almshouse
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

William Brown, of Lyle’s Row, Hitchin, died in early 1929 at the age of 88, leaving his widow Mary as one of his executors. His effects amounted to just over £12,500, a considerable sum for those days.  He left stocks and shares to help with maintenance of the almshouses. He also left money to the Bethel Chapel (Grace Baptist, in Queen Street), showing his Evangelical Protestant Christian beliefs.

His will became the governing document of the William Brown Almshouse Trust. Nearly a decade later, in 1938, as World War II was brewing, the almshouses were completed. Beneficiaries were people born or resident in Hitchin. They were to be deserving people who could not find accommodation and security in the local community to suit their particular requirements and needs. The focus was on the elderly.

The charity is run by 6 trustees who meet 2 – 3 times a year. As with most similar charities, they are unpaid. They are supported by a paid clerk.

Most of the income of  about £35000 income is from residents’ contributions, with some from investments. As may be expected, about half the outgoings are for repairs and improvements – some residents may have special requirements.

The charity is registered with the Charity Commission ref 211759 and affiliated to the Almshouse Association.


Wratten Road East and Old Charlton Road, Hitchin
Georef:       518204 228885
Grid Ref:    51o 56′ 46″N   o 16′ 05″W


Documents held at HALS (not examined at the time of writing)

DE/Ha/B2143 (1929-1979): Early accounts include entries relating to the administration of the will and estate of William Brown, deceased

DE/Ha/B2144 (1932-1939) Stock receipts, correspondence, and papers relating to the investments made by the trustees of the William Brown Almshouse Charity

DE/Ha/B2145  (1938-1953) Comprises an envelope containing signed terms of tenancy, 1938, and contents insurance certificates, 1947 and 1953, of Ada Parsons in respect of 14 Charlton Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

DE/Ha/B2146 (1948-1971) Applications for tenancies of a William Brown Almshouse

DE/Ha/B2147 (1949-1961) Envelope endorsed ‘Miscellaneous’. Comprises mainly correspondence of the trustees of the William Brown Almshouse Charity with Hertfordshire County Council and with the National Association of Almshouses concerning grants sought by the trustees from the County Council for repairs and improvements to the charity’s almshouses

DE/Ha/B2148 (1954-1958) Receipted invoices and vouchers in respect of expenditure of the trustees of the William Brown Almshouse Charity at Hitchin, Hertfordshire

DE/Ha/B2149  (1962-1974) The correspondence mainly relates to financial and property maintenance matters. Papers include some applications for tenancy of a William Brown Almshouse, 1970-1974 Lists of tenants of the almshouses (in connection with the issuing of television licences), 1970-1973 Blank application forms for and terms of tenancy of the almshouses, c1970s; with some correspondence and papers concerning investments in respect of the William Brown Charity for the Ministry of Bethel Chapel in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, 1969 and 1972

DE/Ha/B2150 (Sep 1977-May 1978) Includes copies of an extract from the will of William Brown proved in 1929 relating to the terms of the trust for the benefit of Bethel Chapel and of the 1938 acceptance by the Minister and Deacon…

Websites accessed Aug 2022



This page was added on 09/08/2022.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!