Watford. Mary Bailey Smith

Colin Wilson

Mary Bailey Smith's almshouse from the north west. The new building in the background is known as Lammas Lodge. Feb 2017
Colin Wilson
Mary Bailey Smith's almshouse from the south west. Note the dedication stone on the end wall. Feb 2017
Colin Wilson
The dedication stone on the end wall of Mary Bailey Smith's almshouse. Feb 2017
Colin Wilson
OS 25" map Hertfordshire XLV.7 pub 1940. Watford High Street station is at the top left of the image
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

Mary Bailey Smith spent most of her 77 year life in Watford. Following an illness lasting some years, she died in 1894, the last of her family and the last person to be buried in the Parish churchyard.

The dedication stone on the end of the building reads: ‘These almshouses were erected by Mary Bailey Smith A.D.1884 in memory of her parents and only sister wife of Frederick Normansell. The trustees are the vicar and churchwardens for ever of St Mary’s parish church Watford. This inscription was recorded in the Jubilee year of Queen Victoria’s reign 1887’.

Her almshouses, built in 1884, were dedicated to her parents and to her sister, who was married but died childless. Three old cottages owned by Duke of Bedford were demolished so the almshouses could be built on the corner of Farthing Lane, near her house, Lammas Lodge. Mary provided £1500. This sum was increased by £2500 in her will to provide for repairs and an allowance for the residents.

It was reported that her Christian character and deeds were well known, and that she acted up to the true principles of Christian charity. Mary was active in Sunday school provision and had also provided the land and most of the cost of building St James mission church in 1893.

She assigned the three cottages or almshouses and land adjoining, in trust to the vicar and churchwardens of St Mary’s church. They were to be occupied by widows or spinsters, members of the Church of England. They had to be more than sixty years of age, and have been inhabitants of Watford Town Hamlet for ten years previous to their admission. They would receive 5s a week.

The charity continues, but the accommodation has been managed since 2011 by Paradigm Homes Charitable Housing Association Ltd, who are listed as the trustees. This organisation is part of Paradigm Housing Group Ltd, a large housing association covering much of South East England.

The charity is affiliated to the Almshouse Association, and registered with the Charity Commission ref 239523. The charity does not raise funds from the public, but (as at 2019) has an income of about £10,000.


Georef:     511486 195893
Grid ref:   51o 39′ 03″N   0o 23′ 24″W
OS 25″ map Hertfordshire XLIV.NW (includes: Bushey; Rickmansworth Urban; Watford; Watford Rural.) Revised: 1896 Published: 1899


The Victoria County History of the County of Hertford ed. William Page
Vol 2 p 467
(part of Victoria County History of the Counties of England Ed H Arthur Doubleday)
Issued Archibald Constable & Co 1908. Reprint by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1971 ISBN 0 7129 0476 X
Available online at http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol2/pp464-469

Victorian Almshouses in Hertfordshire, by James A Vyse
A Building Conservation thesis for A A Building Conservation course 1982 – 4
A copy is held at HALS

HALS documents DP/117/25/16 are Deeds of land and messuages at Watford Field, 1802-1884; correspondence 1895; order for vesting land in Official Trustee of Charity Lands, 1948.

Hertfordshire Countryside vol 31 No 209 Sep 1976 p40

Charity Commission ref 239523

Paradigm Housing Group https://www.paradigmhousing.co.uk/

Newspapers. These can be viewed on-line on the British Newspaper Archive website

Watford Observer Saturday 16 September 1893 page 4 col 5.. example in this lady, who had lived nearly all her life in Watford. The Rev. gentleman then made a brief reference to the almshouses which Miss Bailey Smith had built and endowed. Mr. Foster (of Watford Fields) spoke of the liberality of Miss Bailey Smith …
Watford Observer Saturday 27 October 1894 page 4 col 4 includes an obituary
Herts Advertiser Saturday 29 December 1894 page 5 col 2 includes details of her will of 29 Dec 1883 plus codicils.

This page was added on 08/10/2020.

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  • RE “is there a photo ANYWHERE of the original Lammas Lodge “, yes I have one. Not sure of the original source but a cousin of my mother’s had it in her album. The photo is annotated Lammas Lodge – Watford. Any known connection to the Bridgman family would be appreciated.

    By Mike Warland (10/09/2023)
  • Thankyou for your replies , and help , is there a photo ANYWHERE of the original Lammas Lodge before it was demolished and sold for building . Have contacted Watford Museum but no answer yet , but that maybe because if the pandemic . Thankyou
    Suzie Morgan

    By Mrs Suzie Morgan (01/03/2021)
  • Could you please tell me when she died who Lammas Lodge was sold to????? and if it became a children’s home later on ? I was in a children’s home in 1953/54 overlooking the Watfordfields green, near the swings, by the woods, , (which are now flats ) I am desperate for the name of the children’s home ! as i am writing my autobiography.i believe it was in the areA of Lammas Lodge . Would be grateful for any images of Lammas Lodge as I can’t find any on the internet . Please advise Thankyou

    By Mrs Suzie Mirgan (27/02/2021)
  • Suzie
    Unfortunately I don’t know anything about Lammas Lodge. There is a document at Hertfordshire Archives dating from 1895 (ref DE/Cp/Z1) but that will be no use for your query. A Google search for Lammas Lodge didn’t help, only giving current sales. Two possibilities would be to contact Watford Museum, or if you know the organisation who owned the home they may be able to help.
    Best wishes for your search. Colin

    By Colin Wilson (27/02/2021)
  • Dear Sir / Madame,
    Could you please help me, if Lammas Lodge was sold to become a childrens home much later on . I was in a childrens home near the green in 1953 in
    Watfordfields and i am writing my biography, was Lammas Lodge that childrens home in 1953, i am desperate to find out.
    Would be so grateful for your help
    Most sincerely Suzie Morgan

    By Mrs Susan Morgan (26/02/2021)