Original town almshouses
These, five in number and presumably dated between 1454 and 1565, occupied a site in East Street, said to be part of the site later occupied by York Buildings. This identification of the site, although generally accepted, does not agree with other documentary evidence (Southampton City Archives Calendars – Corporation leases N.40), which suggests a site on the south side of East Street outside the walled town, perhaps near the junction with Marsh Lane. However, this may be referring to another, and otherwise unrecorded, early almshouse. The East Street site was acquired by Isaac Malortie c.1759 who demolished the almshouses and built three dwelling houses on the site, which he called York Buildings. The conditions of the grant stipulated that Malortie should build five new almshouses, which he subsequently did on a site north of St. Mary’s Church. These five houses with gardens were situated opposite the Old Almshouse (see below) near the entrance to the poorhouse yard.
Butler’s Almshouses (or Old Almshouses)
The site north of St Mary’s Church already held two Almshouses (or one house divided into two), built by Richard Butler in 1564 during his second mayoralty. These were referred to as Butler’s Almshouses or the Old Almshouses to distinguish them from the New Almshouses built by Isaac Malortie in c.1759. Malortie’s almshouses were demolished in 1830 to make way for the new workhouse, but Butler’s almshouses, now called the Pest House, survived until c.1865.
Grove Street Almshouses
In 1830 the St Mary’s site was acquired by the Poor Law Guardians for the new workhouse. In return the Guardians supplied a site in Grove Street on which seven new almshouses were built in 1831 (image 1 below). On the wall between numbers 1 and 2 was set a stone tablet which had originally been placed on the front of Butler’s Almshouses in 1565 (image 2 below). The stone tablet had a carving of three roses, the date 1565 and initials R.B. (Richard Butler). These almshouses, later renamed Norfolk Cottages, survived until c.1960.

1. Norfolk Cottages, Grove Street

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Built in 1830 as almshouses to replace Butler’s Almshouses which had been demolished to make way for the new workhouse. They were photographed in 1959, shortly before demolition.

2. Old Almshouses: stone tablet

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This stone tablet was originally placed on the almshouses built in the mayoralty of Richard Butler 1563-64, and later transferred to new almshouses in Norfolk street when the original buildings were demolished

see also

Further reading:
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p394-401. (HS/h)


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