Stevenage, Jeremiah Inns
Planning permission issues meant these almshouses weren’t built till a decade after the death of Jeremiah (Jerry) Inns, who died in 1945 at the age of 67, around the end of World War II. He is buried at St Nicholas church, Stevenage, along with his wife Helen and his sister Margaret.
The Ancestry website reveals that at the 1901 census he was a stone and gravel merchant, becoming a hay merchant by 1911. He married twice, to May (or Mary) Ellis in about 1905, then Helen Walker in 1933 (May having died in 1931), by which time he also had an address in London W1. At any rate, at the time of his death his estate was over a million pounds.
Among other legacies in his will, he left his house, Springfield, to Stevenage UDC for use as a hospital, now used as the Old Stevenage Community Centre. He provided for 4 almshouses to be built (if they had not been built by the time of his death), along with £9000 for their upkeep. In addition he left £9000 for more almshouses in nearby Aston, to be built in the name of his late brother, John.
By 1949 the trustees had chosen a site of an acre and had plans drawn up by an architect. However, planning permission was an issue. Stevenage was developed following World War II, the new town being built to the south of what is now known as the Old Town. However, the site was zoned as part of the Neighbourhood Centre of Old Stevenage Neighbourhood and the powers that be thought the site was inappropriate. The trustees’ response was that they were not interested in any other site. The site had been chosen before the New Town Corporation came into being, and if the almshouses were not built there the legacy and its benefit to the people of Stevenage would be lost.
The discussions continued till at least 1954. The issues were resolved, and the almshouses built. They were integrated into the other local buildings. From the exterior the almshouses and the nearby Council properties are similar in style. They are on their own plot of land, with a decent sized grass area.
The Jeremiah Inns charity is registered with the Charity Commission refs 213088 (Jeremiah Inns Charity) and 5187118 (the Inns Almshouse Trust), The aims are recorded as the provision and maintenance of four almshouses for the benefit of poor persons and allowances to inmates, and payment to the rector of Stevenage for general charitable (non-ecclesiastical) purposes of the parish. They are also affiliated to the Almshouse Association.
Inns Close, Letchmore Road, Stevenage
Georef: 523548 224967
Grid ref: 51o 54′ 34”N 00o 12′ 19”W
The Almshouses of Hertfordshire, by W O Wittering
Article in Hertfordshire Countryside 29 (187)
Monumental Inscriptions of the Parish Church of St Nicholas Stevenage, by J Laidlaw & V Palmer
Hertfordshire Family & Population History Society 1986
Documents held at HALS
CNT/ST/5/1/AP/A20 Vol 1. Original file ref A20 Vol 1
Oct 1949 – Jun 1954)
Stevenage Development Corporation, Architects Department
Almshouses (The late Jeremiah Inns)
Office copy of the will of Jeremiah Inns and papers relating to his estate. Includes notes and family tree by Pamela Chadwell
Websites accessed Jun 2022
https://register-of-charities.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-search/-/charity-details/5084357. Old Stevenage Community Association. Formed 2016 to take forward the work of the Unincorporated Association registered charity number 308003.