Walters Close. At all the almshouses the gardens are a key feature
One of the major parts of the Company's charitable activity is acting as trustee for three almshouses. These are: Queen Elizabeth's College in Greenwich, Walter's Close in Southwark and Edmansons at Bruce Grove Tottenham.
Queen Elizabeth College in the spring
Almshouses may be an old-fashioned term, all three have been in existence for some centuries in various forms, but they still continue to meet a real need. They were always designed to look after older people and today they provide sheltered accommodation for residents largely drawn from the local community in which the almshouse is situated.
Edmansons, the Chapel
In total there are some 180 residents. This makes the Company the largest provider of this type of accommodation amongst all the London livery companies although the Mercers and Merchant Taylors are not far behind.
A general view of Edmansons Close (Picture courtesy of Herry Lawford from his blog http://www.lawfordherry.blogspot.com/ )
In recent years we have devolved day-to-day management to Hanover Housing Trust but we still keep close links with the residents and management teams. This is important. We see the attractive location of each almshouse and our tradition of caring and the personal links that build up between residents and members of the Company as making us just a bit extra special in comparison with other providers of care for the elderly. But of course I may be biased.
A recent Tea Party at the Hall (Picture courtesy of Herry Lawford from his blog http://www.lawfordherry.blogspot.com/)
One of my jobs in the Company is to chair the Friends of Drapers' Almshouses (FODAH) which links members of the Company with residents to provide contact through a programme of visits and just keeping in touch. We also have an annual tea party at the Hall - this year HRH the Duchess of Gloucester came in her capacity as a member of the Company and was a popular guest - and we have our annual outing. This year we are going to Leeds Castle in Kent in September.
The Company is the trustees and it is our duty to maintain and develop the almshouses to meet the direction of the various benefactors. As trustees our responsibilities are twofold. We have a duty to ensure that not only do we look after the residents today but ensure that the buildings and endowments are fit for purpose for the future. We are in the process of starting a review with a working group led by Professor Graham Zellick to look at a range of options and come up with a plan.
If you want to find out more do go to the Drapers' Company website .