John and Ann Smith’s almshouses


This hospital, or almshouses, is easily dated as both east (Image 1) and west gables (Image 2) have the ironwork figures of ‘1657’ fixed on them (Image 3). The brickwork which is English bond,  that is a line of headers and then a line of stretchers, is typical of brickwork of this early date. The Dutch gables are another feature of this period.

It is said that John and Ann Smith endowed these almshouses and other almshouses in the city in gratitude for the birth of a child after 20 childless years of marriage.  The Smiths were not resident in Canterbury but owned the manor of Barton Court, the area surrounding the almshouses.

Originally, the almshouses, designed to house four poor men and four poor women, had front doors opening into small front gardens (Image 4) but within the last 40 years a pavement has been built and the gardens were lost and now access to the houses is by doors at the rear. Apart from this change the front of the almshouses probably look as they did when built over 350 years ago. Rear extensions have been added and the houses now only accommodate four residents.

What to see:

  • Charming example of 17th century Dutch-style brickwork with shutters and tall chimneys.
  • Prominent date features in iron work
  • The commemorative plaque in the middle of the frontage (Image 5)

Sources:   Cantacuzino 1970;  Ingram Hill (2004)