Brick Alley Almshouses
Geoffrey Barbour was one of the men who organised the building of Abingdon Bridge. When he died in 1417, he left money for the foundation of an almshouse. In 1554, this was described as sheltering ‘twenty poore creatures’ who lived by charity. In the eighteenth century it was taken over by the Abingdon charity Christ’s Hospital who demolished it and built the present Brick Alley in 1718-1720 on, or close to, the same site on the south side of St Helen’s Churchyard. The new almshouse was designed for six men and six women. Its construction was entrusted to two local master craftsmen, Samuel Westbrook for the structure, and Charles Etty for the woodwork.
While Twitty’s Almshouses, which had been built only a decade or so earlier on the opposite side of St Helen’s Churchyard, differ little in their architecture from the fifteenth-century Long Alley on the west side of the churchyard, Brick Alley is self-consciously ‘modern’ and must have been intended as a prestige project. The side away from the river is of brick, much of it chequered. The centre has a pediment, with arches either side of it that enclose doors and balconies. The side towards the river is roughly coursed rubble stone with brick in the quoins and window-surrounds.
See Glossary for explanations of technical terms.
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