There are twelve Almshouses in South Weald, set in communal grounds with a central Chapel (in which the Vicar holds a communion service once a month). Ten units were built in the 1850’s by the Tower family (through a legacy from Sir Anthony Browne who was Lord of the Manor when he died in 1567). The other two units were added in the 1960’s on further land donated by the Tower family, and during 1993/4 each unit was refurbished to include a new kitchen, bathroom, double glazing and disabled access.
The Almshouses are owned by the Browne and Wingrave Almshouse Charities which are administered on a non-profit-making basis by a body of seven Trustees, with day-to-day paperwork handled by their Clerk, Ken Harris. In accordance with the terms of the scheme approved by the Charity Commission, the almshouses provide accommodation for the elderly who are able to look after themselves but cannot necessarily afford to buy their own home. The setting allows the residents to preserve their independence, but each unit has an emergency call system so that help can be summoned quickly if necessary, as there is no resident warden.
The almshouses are listed buildings and contribute much to the heritage of the village of South Weald. Next time you are passing, have a closer look, or come and view the interior of the Chapel, which is always beautifully decorated by residents at the June Festival weekend.