St Albans. Bennett & Dudding or St Peter's Road

Colin Wilson

Bennett & Dudding's almshouses; view from the south. Nov 2022
Colin Wilson
Bennett & Dudding's almshouses; view from north. Nov 2022
Colin Wilson
The centre entrance to Bennett & Dudding's almshouses. Note the attractive brickwork at the gate. Nov 2022
Colin Wilson
Decorative windows on Bennett & Dudding's almshouses. Nov 2022
Colin Wilson
Copy from St Peter's Rd trustee minutes detailing accounts. Useful as shows how the money was spent. Note the figure for rental income
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies ref DP/93/25/29
Minute from St Peter's Rd almshouses suggesting use of trainees for refurbishment
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies ref DP/93/25/29
St Peter's Rd letter concerning refurbishment grant
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies ref E/3/7
Refurbishment plans for St Peter's Rd almshouses
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies ref E/3/7
OS 25" map Hertfordshire XXXIV.8 1898. Almshouses in NE area of St Albans, St Peter's annotated
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

William Bennet & Horatio Dudding were the double act responsible for these 4 almshouses in St Peter’s Road. They would have had a working relationship in the church for two decades, from 1842 till 1862.

William Bennett (c1800 – 62) married Martha Cannon, of St Albans, in about 1832. Censuses variously list him as a builder, lime-burner and brickmaker, employing up to 27 men. He owned a number of properties, including a number near Marlborough Buildings. From a local council perspective he was a councillor from 1849, mayor in 1851 and alderman in 1856. He was also on the Board of Guardians. His link with Dudding was through St Peter’s Church, where he was a church warden.

The scholarly Horatio Nelson Dudding (1808 – 95) became the vicar of St Peter’s in 1842, remaining for the remaining 53 years of his life. Yes, he was a descendent of the Trafalgar commander, and gave his son the same name. His lengthy obituary suggests he was a popular preacher. His second wife Esther, who he married in 1874, is of interest in this survey as she later founded the Stallibrass almshouses in Barkway.

It’s not clear when the almshouses were built. They were separate foundations though the structure was effectively a single block of cottages. One source says that Bennett’s were built in about 1870 (after his death) and Dudding’s added later. An interesting clause in Bennett’s will stated, ‘I devise to the Reverend Horatio Nelson Dudding of St Albans aforesaid and his heirs the legal estate of his two Almshouses occupied by his nominees situate near the Peacock Public House at St Albans aforesaid. I devise to my wife Martha and her heirs my two almshouses situate near the said Peacock Public House’. This would suggest a building date of before 1862 and raises the question of the relationship between the two if he was able to devise Dudding’s almshouses. An 1869 newspaper article refers to Hatfield Road with only three houses on it, except a small almshouse, but that could be taken lightly as there were other almshouses along the road, including Marlborough. Later, but before VCH was published in 1908, Rev E Bennett of Doncaster claimed the Bennett almshouses were his family’s property.

As far as endowments are concerned, The Cannon Gift, amounting to £300, was bequeathed by Harriet Cannon in 1884. Note Bennett’s wife was formerly one of the Cannon family. It was specifically for the Bennett part of the almshouses. Rev Dudding gave his daughters some stock realising about £30 a year in 1908. This provided the residents in his almshouses and Clarke’s almshouses with 1s a week. The residents also received help from a few other charities though there was no other endowment. The Bennett Almshouses Endowment showed a deficiency of £6 9s 7d in 1898.

1941 was a difficult time for St Albans’ almshouses due to lack of finance. There were plans to sell them off. A provisional reserve auction price was suggested Dudding £520 and St Peter’s £250. St peter’s was Not Pemberton’s, as that was separately mentioned. Also, the Church Cottages were separately listed. While Pemberton’s almshouses were purchased by the Council, the St Peter’s Road almshouses were not.

We can now jump ahead to 1963. An improvement grant was obtained. Detailed specifications are contained in documents held at HALS. As one almshouse was improved, a resident was transferred so their residence could be improved when another could be moved, and so on. The resident in No 7 was rather unwell so repairs had to be delayed in that case. Some shares were sold in 1965 to realise the money needed. A communal electric meter was provided for light, with individual meters for other use. This was completed by 1967. A nominal rent of 5s a week was charged.

In 1974 an estimate for work was received mounting to £540. One creative suggestion was to contact the College of Building to do the work as training project, the charity providing the materials. Plans of the dwellings are part of the documents held at HALS.

The charity was known as Bennett and Dudding. They are now part of the United Almshouse Charity. The charity provides for the six almshouses – 2 for Bennett, 2 for Dudding in St Peter’s Road, and Dudding’s 2 Churchyard Cottages. The almshouses are affiliated to the Almshouse Association.


1, 3, 5, 7 St Peter’s Road, St Albans
Georef:     515185 207483
Grid ref:   51o 45′ 16″N   0o 19′ 58″W
OS 25” map Hertfordshire XXXIV.8


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

Documents held at HALS

DP/93/25/26  Date: (1964 – 1971)  Correspondence concerning the National Association of Almshouses, and the United Almshouses Charities

DP/93/25/26  1964 – 1971 Including Charity Commission schemes and orders

D/P93/25/28 St Peter’s Church Charities minute books 1939 – 1972

DP/93/25/29  (Mar 1973 – Nov 1974)
St Albans, St Peter Parish Records (1521 – 2007)
St Peter’s Almshouses: Trustees minutes

SBR/4508/786   (1964 – 1966)
Records of the Borough of St Albans (1353 – 1991)
Housing: Improvement Grants
File E/3/7/786: Almshouses 1,3,5,7 St Peters Road …

Websites accessed Oct 2022  Estate was under £2000 Accessed Feb 2018

Newspapers can be viewed on the British Newspaper Archive website
Note that other references refer to St Peter’s, which may be Pemberton or St Peter’s Road. See the document BNA Newspapers List

Herts Advertiser 09 February 1895 page 5 col 6 Obituary for H N Dudding

Herts Advertiser 03 September 1898 Deficiency of £6 9s 7d on the Bennett Almshouses Endowment

Herts Advertiser 03 October 1891 page 8, 9 John Spriggs died, aged 75

Herts Advertiser 06 December 1884 page 8 William Little died, aged 76

Herts Advertiser 20 November 1869 page 8 col 1 [Letter from T W Blagg]. the Hatfield Road, thereby taking in a extent of land up to the Hatfield Road with only three houses on it, except small Almshouse; from thence to the viaduct and on to the old boundary, ….

Herts Advertiser 12 July 1879 page 5 col 4 Thursday evening between seven and eight o’clock, Mrs. Ruskin, an inmate St, Peter’s Almshouses, Hatfield Road, died suddenly while in the garden in front of the houses. Deceased had been ailing for some few days,… deceased was 71 years of age and had been in the almshouse just upon 3 years



This page was added on 27/10/2022.

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