Wareside. The Retreat and unknown

Colin Wilson

The Retreat at Wareside. Aug 2016
Colin Wilson

Helham Green, Hellum Green, Pelham Green and Elm Green appear to be synonyms for the same place, situated to the east of Ware on the road to Widford. Four almshouses have been combined in this article, probably comprising three buildings. Which documents refer to which is unclear. The building known as The Retreat still exists, and accounts for two almshouses in one building. However, there were two others of unknown origin. DE/We/4/102-103 (20-21 Mar 1818) mentions two almshouses in Hellam Green, housing four widows. The Records of the Ware Charity Estates for 1840 refer to two almshouses at Elm Green. The Charity Commission for 1909 mentions 2 almshouses at Elm Green and two buildings at Elm Green formerly used as almshouses. Chauncy says that Mr Humphrey Spencer gave two almshouses at Pelham Green towards the maintenance of the poor of Ware Upland.

On 20 May 1923 a Charity Commission order allowed the sale of two almshouses at Elm Green and two buildings formerly used as almshouses at Elm Green. While the location of The Retreat is known, the location of the other two is not.

Edward Dewbury wrote a report on the Wareside almshouses in 1922.

The Retreat does not seem to be in an ideal place for aged poor women. The site may have a lovely view, but it’s at the top of a hill with a narrow road access. It does make you wonder how they managed to get to the village and back, especially in bad weather.

Historic England cites it as an 18th century building, in existence by 1788 as a feoffement dates from that year. Victoria County History adds that the widows received parochial relief, while Jane Webb notes they were built by an unknown donor. The almshouses occupied 19 poles. According to the 1845 tithe award, the occupiers were Eliza Izzard, Sarah Hurt & others, while the Ware Charity Trust was the owner.

The Historic England entry says it is thatched, but photos exist to show it was tiled at some time. There is a photograph claiming to be of the building in its thatched condition in a copy of Hertfordshire Countryside. It was grade II listed in 1983, reference 1341428. Historic England also has an archive volume of information, which had not been fully catalogued at the time of writing.

Judging by recent estate agents’ reports it is now a very desirable property, worth about twice the average of properties in the vicinity.


OS 25” map Hertfordshire XXX.6 Revised: 1896, Published: 1898 annotates two almshouses on the site of The Retreat.
Georef:     539918 215965
Gridref:     51o 49′ 30″N  0o 01′ 44″E


The Historical Antiquities of Hertfordshire, by Sir Henry Chauncy
Vol 1 pp 416-7
1st edition London 1700; 2nd edition Bishops Stortford 1826
This edition  Kohler & Coombes of Dorking 1975 ISBN 0 903967 01 4

The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford (4 vols). Ed William Page
Vol 3 pp 396
Issued Archibald Constable & Co. 1912. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 (ISBN 0 7129 0477 8)
Available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol3/pp380-397

Wareside, a Miscellany of Histories, by Jane Webb.
Pages 87 and 151
Pub Rockingham Press / Ware Museum 2000. ISBN 1-873468-79-2

Documents held at HALS

1845 tithe award

DE/WE/3/1 is the copy of schemes of Ware Charity Estates; DE/WE/3/2 are the original documents.
They include the 1909 and 1923 Charity Commission orders.

DE/We/4/104 is the 1818 feoffement of new trustees, but is unfit for production

DE/We/4/102-103 and DE/We/4/105-106 returned ‘nothing found’ when searched for in March 2021.

DE/We/5/6. [19th century] plans of charity properties, including almsrooms at Elm Green, Wareside, in 1923

DE/Ch/B15 (1922) Report on Wareside almshouses by Edward Dewbury, with a plan.


Historic England (accessed Mar 2021)
An archive report also exists, but not fully catalogued at the time of writing

This page was added on 04/03/2021.

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