Worthing: Charities for the poor

Pages 128-129

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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Humphrys' alms-houses were founded in 1858 by Robert and Ann Humphrys in memory of their son Harry, for Anglican married couples, widows, or spinsters resident in Broadwater parish. Six houses were built in Humphrys Road in that year, (fn. 2) endowed with adjoining land, a £78 yearly rent-charge to pay weekly allowances, and £1,000 stock for maintenance. Two more houses were built c. 1867 in Portland Road, (fn. 3) with money bequeathed by Robert Humphrys's will dated 1860. Part of the land was sold c. 1922, and the rent-charge was redeemed between 1890 and 1954. The weekly allowances were discontinued from c. 1929 as each house fell vacant, and had ceased by 1951. The trustees were empowered to charge weekly contributions by a Scheme of 1953. The houses needed modernizing by 1957; one was closed c. 1959, and in 1971 those in Humphrys Road were rebuilt and those in Portland Road modernized. By will proved 1970 Edith Hastings left £5,062 to the trustees, which went towards the rebuilding. Jane Butler by will proved 1936 bequeathed £100 to buy cigarettes and tea for the inmates. In the 1960s the income was distributed at Christmas. The Butler bequest was amalgamated with the alms-house charity by a Scheme of 1972; £4.80 was paid out in 1975.

St. Elizabeth's alms-houses were founded in 1859 by Alfred Burges of Blackheath (Kent), who gave £650 to build houses for four women, preferably members of the Church of England, in New Town, later Clifton Road, and £1,700 stock as an endow ment and to pay weekly allowances. The red and blue brick houses were built in 1860 and by 1864 the founder had increased the endowment to £2,260 stock. (fn. 4) By 1915 the endowment was £3,800 stock and it was further increased by £400 stock under the will of Miriam Melville, proved 1937. Weekly allowances had ceased by 1959, when a small amount of coal was provided for the inmates. The alms-houses were modernized in 1965 and under a Scheme of 1966 the trustees were empowered to charge inmates weekly contributions.

About 1920 John Pearson of Worthing established Pearson's Retreat Cottage Homes for poor, elderly inhabitants of Worthing at the east end of the town, on the north side of Brighton Road. In 1920 he and his wife Fanny gave to the corporation as trustee 2½ a. on which there were 18 cottage homes, a reading room, a detached cottage, and a smallholding. Preference was to be given to married couples, two cottages were reserved for spinsters, and a maintenance fund of £500 stock was set up. (fn. 5) In 1923 Pearson and his wife gave a further 4 a. adjoining. By will proved 1929 Pearson left c. £19,000 (fn. 6) to the corporation to support and extend the charity, and for a yearly allowance of 15s. to each inmate. The corporation built 26 more cottages in 1936-7, and all the cottages were let free until 1954. In 1958 c. 1½ a. of the land was sold. By 1967 the original cottages were in poor repair, and they were later demolished; in 1977 20 new dwellings were built at the north end of the original site.

In 1953, to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the mayor of Worthing and others raised a fund by public subscription to build small homes for deserving residents. Eight 'Coronation homelets' were built on land belonging to Pearson's Retreat. (fn. 7) By 1960 the charity had received further funds from donations and legacies, and by 1977 57 homelets had been built. (fn. 8)

The Irene Gowland Trust was founded by Thomas Gowland in memory of his wife in 1968. He gave £2,000 cash, £6,500 in mortgages, and three farms in Yorkshire to found a home in Worthing for the elderly poor. The trust fund, eventually worth £165,000, was used to buy and convert an existing nursing home for 20 people; it was officially opened, as Irene House, in 1976. (fn. 9)

By will proved 1835 Lucy Hawes of Worthing gave £1,000 stock, one quarter of the income to be paid to the free schools of the town, and the rest in kind to the poor of Worthing. In 1902 it was decided to confine the poor's benefits to the part of Worthing south of the Teville stream. In 1974 £12 was paid out.

By will proved 1869 Harriet Burford of Worthing devised the income from £100 to buy coal in winter for the aged poor and needy sick of the town. In 1973-4 £3 was spent on vouchers for coal or clothes.

Maria Steele of Worthing by will proved 1892 gave £400, subject to a life-interest, the income to buy coal or blankets for the poor of Worthing. In 1896 £360 was invested in stock, and in 1973-4 £8 was spent on vouchers for coal or clothes.

The Worthing and Broadwater Provident and Relief Society, started in the mid 19th century, provided coal in winter and ran a soup kitchen by 1880. A permanent kitchen and distribution centre for coal, soup, and bread was built c. 1893 in Grafton Road. It was open daily during the typhoid outbreak of 1893. (fn. 10) By c. 1920 the building was let. A Scheme of 1932 widened the Soup Kitchen Fund's objects; the building was sold in 1933 and c. £700 comprising the proceeds of sale and accumulated income, were invested in stock. For some years the trustees made grants to Worthing hospital, until a Scheme of 1951 altered the charity's objects to include supplying poor residents of the town with clothes, fuel, and medical and other aid. In 1974 £53 was distributed.

William Potter, a Worthing grocer, (fn. 11) by will proved 1896 gave £2,000, the income to be used to relieve old people connected with the town. In 1968 the charity held £2,963 stock and £471 of accumulated income. In 1973 £173 was distributed. (fn. 12)

The Aubrey Fletcher Memorial Home in Christchurch Road was founded in 1910 by public subscription to provide nursing for the poor of Worthing. By 1934 it had become the nurses' home of the Worthing District Nursing Association, and it was let to the county council as a nurses' home from 1948 to 1952. By a Scheme of 1952 the charity was empowered to supply domestic and other help; the home was sold in 1953, and the proceeds invested in stock. In 1954 £200 given by Alice Barnett by will proved in the same year was invested likewise. By 1976 the income of both charities was distributed as part of the District Nursing Fund, which in that year had an income of c. £130. (fn. 13)

Sarah Tubbs by will proved 1921 gave £50, the income to be spent on coal or groceries at Christmas for old people living near St. Matthew's church. In 1965 £8 16s. was spent on groceries.

Charles Whitcomb by will proved 1944 gave £2,000, the income to be applied for the benefit of existing or past poor residents of Worthing, preference being given to retired employees of Potter, Bailey and Co., the Worthing grocers, (fn. 14) their widows and children, or old customers of the firm. He also left £1,000, the income to be distributed at Christmas to impoverished ladies resident in Worthing.

Other charities include the Brighton and Worthing Charitable Trust for the Elderly which was founded in 1967 by an anonymous donor who gave 70,000 £1 shares, the income to be divided equally between two Brighton charities, the Worthing Society for the Blind, and the Worthing and District Council of Social Service. In 1973-4 £1,382 was paid to each of the two Worthing charities.


  • 1. See also Broadwater. Except where otherwise stated the following is based on Char. Com. files.
  • 2. French's Dir. Worthing (1859), 44; Breads's Guide Worthing (1859), 24; Elleray, Worthing, pl. 31.
  • 3. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1867, 1870).
  • 4. Inscr. on bldg.; cf. Char. Digest Suss., H.C. 433 (20), pp. 4-5 (1867-8), lii (2).
  • 5. Worthing B.C. Yr. Bk. (1972-3).
  • 6. Ibid.
  • 7. Ex inf. the chairman, Worthing Coronation Homelets Trust.
  • 8. Souvenir programme of opening ceremony of final block of Coronation homelets, 1975.
  • 9. Worthing Herald, 29 Oct., 5 Nov. 1976.
  • 10. W.R.L., Worthing pamphlets, xix, p. 271; C 54/19750 mm. 19-20; Kelly, Rep. Epidemic, 58.
  • 11. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1891).
  • 12. Ex inf. Worthing and Dist. Council of Soc. Service.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1938).