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The Lovell Almshouses Oakley

Lovell Almshouses March 2011
Lovell Almshouses March 2011

The Lovell Almshouses were built with money from the will of William George Lovell in memory of his son Sidney Howard Lovell who died tragically young. The chancel floor in Saint Paul’s church, Bedford, was also given in memory of Sidney Howard Lovell. On the wall to the left of the entrance to the Trinity Chapel is a memorial tablet reading: “To the Glory of God and in loving memory of Sidney Howard Lovell, only child of William and Mary Lovell the Marble Floor of this chancel was dedicated AD 1900, he died July 21, 1891 aged 13 years RIP”.

William George Lovell of The Elms, Bedford died on 13th July 1909, his wife having died on Christmas Eve 1902, she was a daughter of Sir Frederick Howard, co-partner in the Britannia Ironworks in Kempston Road, Bedford. Lovell was 66 and had been educated at BedfordModernSchool and was the son of a maltster and coal merchant. William George Lovell sold his father’s brewery business to J. E. Page and Company but he was also a partner in the Newport Pagnell [Buckinghamshire] brewing firm of Allfrey and Lovell.

Sidney Howard Lovell [X880/4/5]
Sidney Howard Lovell [X880/4/5]

The Bedfordshire Times of 26th March 1926 carried the following article on the establishment of the almshouses.

THE LOVELL ALMSHOUSES

SCHEME FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE CHARITY

“Seventeen years after the proving of the will of Mr. William George Lovell, which provided for its institution, a Scheme ordered by the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division in January for the administration of the Sidney Howard Lovell Memorial Almshouses Charity has now been published and will shortly be on sale. The order was made upon the application to the Court of Messrs, G. C. Walker, W. Shepherd, F. Diemer, Alex Morrison and Colonel G. H. Wells. The scheme provides for the erection forthwith of six almshouses, and for the erection at later date of such further almshouses as the appointed Trustees shall think fit up to total number of twenty. For preference the houses are to be built to the east of the schools at Oakley facing south, but they may be built in any other part of the county if the first preference is not practicable. They are to be semi-detached and substantially built of red brick with small front gardens containing rose trees and small back gardens containing fruit trees. The following inscription is to be erected in granite or some equally imperishable material in a suitable position on the houses: -

THE SIDNEY HOWARD LOVELL
ALMSHOUSES
These almshouses are erected to the Glory of God and in memory of Sidney Howard Lovell by direction of his parents William George Lovell and Mary Howard Lovell
“Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you”. 

THE BENEFICIARIES

“The almshouses are to be allotted to people over sixty years of age to be selected as to one-third from the Borough and as to two-thirds from the Parliamentary Division of North Bedfordshire s it existed before December, 1905. The rural occupants are to be preferably agricultural labourers from Wood End, Box End and West End (Kempston), Bromham, Stagsden, Stevington, Oakley, Carlton, Pavenham, Milton Ernest, Ravensden, Thurleigh, Wilden, Colmworth, Renhold, Bolnhurst, Bletsoe and Goldington. They may be married or single, and in their selection no question of politics is to be considered, but special regard is to be had to industry and good conduct. They may do casual work and may keep poultry or pigs. They are to be allowed from the Trust a sum not exceeding £1 a week for married couples and not exceeding 15/- a week for single persons, but the exact amount is to be decided by the Trustees, who may, if they think fit, also appoint a caretaker or a nurse”.

THE TRUSTEES

“The Trust, which is now constituted under the new Scheme is to be known as “The Sidney Howard Lovell Memorial Almshouses” and three of its members, namely the Mayor of Bedford and the Members of Parliament for Bedford and mid-Bedfordshire Divisions, are to be ex-officio. The following are appointed the first ordinary Trustees: Messrs. G. C. Walker, Walter Shepherd, Frank Diemer, Alex Morrison, Colonel G. H. Wells, Mr. J. Arnold Whitchurch, Mr. Walter Quenby, Colonel F. A. D. Stevens, Mr. F. V. Dalton (Dean) and Mrs. S. R. Wells. The first meeting of the Trust is to be summoned by the Mayor of Bedford within three months of the publication of the Scheme, and this meeting is to make all the necessary arrangements for the conduct of the business of the Charity and for the appointment of its officers. There is to be a Clerk, and other officers or agents which the Trustees may deem necessary for their assistance. The Clerk is to conduct the correspondence, and to keep the minutes and the accounts, furnishing such statements as the Trustees are bound to render by Law”.

“Applications for almshouses should be made to the Trustees or to the Clerk in the manner which is to be prescribed by the Trustees, and must be made in person except in the case pf physical disability. Every appointment is to be made a special or general meeting of the Trustees to be held as soon as conveniently possible after an interval of one month from the occurrence of a vacancy”.

William George Lovell and his wife [X880/4/7]
William George Lovell and his wife [X880/4/7]

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service holds the Sidney Howard Lovell Memorial Almshouse Trust archive [X880]. This includes minutes of trustees’ meetings [X880/1], the constitution and regulations [X880/2], title deeds and related papers [X880/3] and papers of the Lovell family [X880/4].

The deeds show that the land on which the almshouses stand was purchased by the trustees from Walter Molesworth Peacock, of College Farm, in May 1926. They bought eight acres for £1,075 [X880/3/2a]. The deeds also show how the site was extended allowing for the construction of more houses. Another two and a half acres were purchased from Walter Peacock in 1934 for £377 [X880/3/3/2]. In March 1945 the trustees bought six and a quarter acres from Martha Eva Wells of 117 Midland Road, Bedford, for £1,400 [X880/3/4]. This gave the current site of nearly seventeen acres. In 1990 North Bedfordshire Borough Council gave a grant to refurbish the thirty homes [X880/3/5].