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A Wells & Mendip Museum publication



is available on this page.

This book is the first detailed history of Wells Old Almshouse - please scroll down to discover more.

Wells Old Almshouse

Jean Imray, a former Wells City Archivist and a Trustee of Wells & Mendip Museum, spent many years researching this detailed book. At the time of her death in 2015, she was close to completing it. A number of her former friends and colleagues felt it would be a fitting tribute to her to ensure that the work was published. Accordingly, three of them have edited the book and prepared it for print. It was launched on 2nd February 2022.

Jean Imray, standing by the moat at the Bishop’s Palace, Wells.

© Stella Taylor, Jean’s niece.

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Most towns and cities across England had almshouses to provide shelter and sustenance for elderly residents who were no longer able to support themselves properly. The first almshouse in the small cathedral city of Wells in Somerset was founded in 1436 under the will of Bishop Nicholas Bubwith for twenty-four residents. That number was augmented by six in 1615 under the will of Bishop John Still and by a further four in 1777 under the will of Bishop Edward Willes. These together formed what is known as Wells Old Almshouse. They and other Wells almshouses were brought together in 2004 to form the City of Wells Almshouses. 

View of Bubwith’s Almshouse taken in 2019 from Chamberlain Street, with the chapel nearest to the camera.

© Jerry Sampson.

Still’s Almshouse, photographed in 2017.

© Meredith Roberts.

The illustrated 200-page book, entitled Wells Old Almshouse, is the first ever history of Wells Old Almshouse. It has been released in two formats. There are a limited number of printed deposit copies plus a PDF release.

The bound deposit copies are being donated to eight libraries and archives (including Wells City Library, Wells & Mendip Museum Library, Wells City Archives and the Somerset Studies Library) and to the City of Wells Almshouses. They were funded largely by the Wells Local History Workshop (of which Jean Imray was an active member), along with Wells City Council and Wells & Mendip Museum.

Section of William Simes’ Plan of Wells (1735), showing the Almshouses (labelled “d”) to the north of St. Cuthbert’s Church.

© Wells & Mendip Museum.

The book is available as a free download here:

In this way Jean Imray’s text and research are being made freely available.

You may print the book free of charge, but content copying has been restricted.

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Stuart Andrews (L., Honorary Librarian of Wells & Mendip Museum and personal friend of Jean Imray) presents Jean’s book to Charles Cain (R., Chair of Board of Trustees, City of Wells Almshouses).

Photo © Kevin Westwood.

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(L. to R.) The Very Reverend Dr John Davies DL, Dean of Wells Cathedral Charles Cain, Chair of Board of Trustees, City of Wells Almshouses Councillor Philip Welch, Mayor of Wells.

Photo © Kevin Westwood.

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(L. to R.) Reg Hemmings, representative of the residents of the City of Wells Almshouses

Dr Julia Wood, Wells City Archivist, Wells City Council

Sue Isherwood, Chair of Board of Trustees, Wells & Mendip Museum

The Very Reverend Dr John Davies DL, Dean of Wells Cathedral

Charles Cain, Chair of Board of Trustees, City of Wells Almshouses

Councillor Philip Welch, Mayor of Wells

David Walker, Honorary Curator, Wells & Mendip Museum

Stuart Andrews, Honorary Librarian, Wells & Mendip Museum

Victoria Northwood, Search and Learn Project Officer, Wells & Mendip Museum

Photo © Kevin Westwood.

Below is a selection of images from the book. Click on an image to enlarge and view the description:

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