They regard Queen Elizabeth Almshouses – the pretty little crescent of dinky homes opening onto a leafy green just opposite the station (see Stevie’s pic above…)
For a couple of weeks now, I’ve had a number of disturbing messages left by ‘Jessica’ regarding the future of the buildings. She said that they were to be knocked down by the Drapers Company who administer William Lambarde’s 16th Century local charity for local people because they no longer meet H&S standards.
I was surprised to read this, and contacted a few people who might know something about it. One of the perils of being anonymous is that I can’t get completely stuck into things like this, but the contacts I do have told me that the buildings had only just been done up, so it didn’t seem likely that they would have been refurbished if they were to be demolished.
Appeased, I took my eye off the ball. After all, the buildings must be listed, surely (though I can’t find out that they actually are – it’s hard to get a definitive account of all listed buildings in the borough.)
But then I got another message from Jessica, saying that there was a notice on the railings outside the almshouses. As soon as I was well, I nipped over there, though in such a hurry I forgot both my camera and my notebook.
The upshot of the notice is the proposed merger of the Drapers’ Company’s three charities (the other two are in Tottenham and Southwark) to create a single entity. The most memorable other issue on the railings-notice is that this new Uber-Charity will reserve the right to sell off whatever of its property it likes, as long as the cash goes towards almshouses.
Now, this is as much as I know. There is nothing at all about the proposals posted on the property railings on the Drapers’ Company website and no overt signs that the gussying-up of the very pretty – and very marketable – Queen Elizabeth Almshouses was a precursor to selling them off to build ugly new ones somewhere cheap, but nothing to reassure me that that isn’t the intention either.
Does anyone know anything further about this? Someone from the Ashburnham Association, perhaps? I can’t see that these buildings are in any danger of actual demolition – they’re far too olde-worlde-desirable as bijou executive bachelor pads for that – but is there the intention of moving out the pensioners to make some easy cash (after all – what would old people want with easy access to shops, transport and entertainment..?) and flogging off these exquisite little chocolate-box homes?
I can’t help feeling William Lambarde’s grave could be less than restful just now…