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North End, Whitgift Almshouses
In 1596 John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury (1583-1604), laid the foundation stone of the Hospital of the Holy Trinity at Croydon. The hospital was to be situated at the medieval town crossroads for the maintenance of between thirty and forty "poor, needy or impotent people" from the parishes of Lambeth and Croydon. There were three separate buildings: the Hospital or Almshouses, the Schoolhouse and the Schoolmaster's House. The first stands at the corner of North End and George Street, and the other two stood nearby in George Street.
Because of their rectangular plan, the Almshouses jut out five feet into George Street at the back, creating a bottleneck at what was the town's main crossroads. The building has been renovated to bring 20th century standards of comfort to its residents. On 21st June 1983, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the Whitgift Almshouses to unveil a plaque commemorating its restoration. She signed the Visitor's Book and was shown, amongst other items, Queen Elizabeth I's seal on the Founder's Letters Patents to found a Hospital, dated 22nd November 1595.
In 1923 after many threats of demolition from the Croydon Corporation's road-widening schemes, the Almshouses were saved by the intervention of the House of Lords. They are now Grade 1 Listed and the most historic building in the Central Croydon Conservation Area.
Thursday, 5 March, 2015