Home   Beccles   Article

Retirement home St Edmund's Almshouse in Bungay awarded Grade II listed status




A picturesque almshouse which has supported retired residents of a Suffolk town since the late 19th century has been awarded listed status.

St Edmund's Almshouse in Bungay, which was built in 1895 with funds donated by local solicitor Frederick Smith, has been listed at Grade II on the advice of Historic England.

Melissa Thompson, senior listing adviser for Historic England in the East of England, said: “This charming building has supported retired residents in Bungay for over 120 years, offering comfortable and restful retirement accommodation.

St Edmund's Almshouse in Bungay has received Grade II listed status. Picture: Pat Payne/Historic England
St Edmund's Almshouse in Bungay has received Grade II listed status. Picture: Pat Payne/Historic England

"Listing St Edmund’s Almshouse celebrates its importance to the local community and recognises the philanthropic gesture of Frederick Smith which enabled the building of this beautiful home.”

Mr Smith was also 'Town Reeve' - a unique position to Bungay dating back to the 16th century, and similar in status and responsibility to that of Mayor - for four periods of office between 1885 and 1900.

Building St Edmund's Almshouse cost £2,000 and provided accommodation for six single tenants and two married couples.

St Edmund's Almshouse circa 1900-1910. Picture: Bungay Museum Trust
St Edmund's Almshouse circa 1900-1910. Picture: Bungay Museum Trust

It is believed to have been designed by Bernard Smith, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, who had previously been commissioned by Frederick Smith to design the billiard room at his home - the Grade II listed Earsham House in Bungay, which is now the Town Hall.

A spokesman for Historic England said: "St Edmund's Almshouse is a single-storey building in a picturesque Tudor style with gabled bays, stone mullion windows and finely crafted Gothic detailing."

They added that the character of the building was 'designed to show homeliness and comfort'.

The interior of building was modernised in 1973-74, with new kitchens, bathrooms and central heating fitted.

St Edmund's Almshouse circa 1920s. Picture: Bungay Museum Trust
St Edmund's Almshouse circa 1920s. Picture: Bungay Museum Trust

It was further upgraded in 2012-13 to convert the bedsits into one-bedroomed accommodation for double occupancy.

And more recently, in 2019, external woodwork was restored.

St Edmund's now contains eight of the 13 almshouses owned and is run by Bungay Town Trust for retired residents.

St Edmund's Almshouse shown next to the Cherry Tree Pub in Bungay. Picture: Bungay Museum Trust
St Edmund's Almshouse shown next to the Cherry Tree Pub in Bungay. Picture: Bungay Museum Trust

Judy Cloke, Town Reeve and chairman of the Bungay Town Trust, said: “I am delighted the St Edmund’s Almshouse has been classified as Grade II listed.

"Its attractive design is a well-loved and familiar feature of the Bungay townscape and something of which the Town Trust can be very proud, especially following recent refurbishment and upgrading.

"Not only is it good to look at, it offers a vital service to the local community.”

The almshouse dates back to the late 19th century. Picture: Pat Payne/Historic England
The almshouse dates back to the late 19th century. Picture: Pat Payne/Historic England

You can share your memories and information about St Edmund's Almhouses for the building's listing here.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk

Read more: All the latest news from Beccles