Cooper’s almshouses

Lower Chantry Lane

Readers of the foundation stone (Image 1) may be excused for assuming that T S Cooper mentioned here is the famous Canterbury painter, Thomas Sydney Cooper.  But they’d be wrong – this T S Cooper is Thomas Sankey Cooper (1818-1898) who practised as a surgeon, was twice mayor (1866 and 1875), and in later life served as Chairman of the Commissioners of Income Tax.  He is not known to be related to the painter, and has a memorial stone where he is buried in Thanington church.  The second name on the stone, H Cooper, was his younger brother Henry.  The almshouses consisted of six single storey cottages built in an ornate Dutch style.  They narrowly avoided serious damage in World War II air raids, apart from loss of the entrance gate.  Funding problems in the 1980s led to an amalgamation of Cooper’s charity with the John Adkinson’s charity, the latter set up in 1711 for relief of poor widows in St Paul’s parish.  The attraction of a merger was simple – Cooper’s had buildings but insufficient funds, whilst Adkinson’s had funds but no building.  The merger was completed in 1987, and the modernised six cottages opened in 1991, with a replacement entrance gate.

What to see:

  • plaques on the front of the building outlining the history of the building (Images 1 and 2)
  • the striking Dutch style features of ornamental curved gable ends along the front and at each end of the building (Image 3 and 4)
  • the unusual treatment of the roof – cross gables (a shared long ridge but individual lower gables for each cottage) all in Dutch style and incorporated into a single storey property
  • four ornate ‘clumped’ brick chimneys (Image 5)

Access:  private house, front visible from Lower Chantry Lane

Sources:  Ingram Hill (2004);  Green (1988);  Stewart (1983);  helpful advice from officials of the Cooper and Adkinson charity