Ware. Humphrey Spencer or Kibes Lane

Colin Wilson

OS map showing approximate location of Humphrey Spencer's tenements.
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

Most of the records suggest that London haberdasher Humphrey Spencer provided funds for the poor. Victoria County History records the Charity of Humphrey Spencer consists of a cottage in Kibes Lane producing £9 2s. yearly. This implies that it was let out, the income being used for the poor. The 1907 Ware Charities scheme does not mention an almshouse, while other almshouses are mentioned. The other slight query is that Humphrey Spencer also left money to educate 4 poor children. Victoria County History dates this to 1633. Clutterbuck does not refer to these almshouses. David Short includes them as almshouses in his list, with a 1633 date.

A 19th century copy of Spencer’s will is held at HALS. Most of the provision is for education in Ware Upland and Ware. That includes the tenements in Kibes Lane, which raised £20 a year each. While he left £20 for the poor of Ware, £5 for the poor of Hunsdon and £5 for the poor of Widford, there is no mention of accommodation.

However a 1905 document detailing the Ware Charities properties does refer to the Humphrey Spencer almshouses at 6 Kibes Lane, adding that it was then let out to David Day for £9 2s a year. The 1909 Charity commission scheme merely cites the Humphrey Spencer gift, If let out, how could it be used to house poor people at the time? This mirrors a similar issue concerning Armatrading’s almshouse. While Spencer’s will specifies 2 dwellings, by 1905 there was only 1 – either by selling or merging.

At this stage it does not appear that we can be more specific. It may be that the property was once used as an almshouse but later used as a revenue source, or maybe ‘almshouse’ was used rather loosely in the 1907 document, indicating obtaining funds for the poor. Of course, much can change in a 300 year period. The various OS maps do not annotate an almshouse, but this cannot be taken as definitive because not all almshouses were so annotated.

There were a few very unhealthy areas in Ware in the early 20th century, Kibes lane being one of them. It was aid that apart from the filth, policemen went in pairs. S Williams has written a useful article about this. The area was cleared in the 1930s and the cottages bought by the Council at that time. This is reflected in the 1940 map.

Readers are referred to the article Ware Crib Street


6 Kibes Lane, Ware
Approx georef:    536106 214276
Approx grid ref:  51o 48′ 39″N   0o 01′ 43″W
OS 25” map Hertfordshire XXIX.12


The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford, ed William Page
Vol 3
Issued Archibald Constable & Co. 1912. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0477 8
This publication is available online at https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp380-397

An Historical Atlas of Hertfordshire, ed David Short
Page 151
Hertfordshire Publications 2011  ISBN 978-9-9542189-6-6

Documents held at HALS

DE/We/3/1 Ware Charities Charity Commission schemes

DE/We/4/94 19th century copy of Humphrey Spencer’s will

DE/We/5/1 Details of Ware Charity properties 1905

Websites accessed Jan 2024

https://www.hertsmemories.org.uk/content/herts-history/towns-and-villages/ware/slum_housing_in_ware_1850s_to_1930s is S Williams’ article

This page was added on 28/12/2023.

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