Work to transform historic almshouses in Emery Down near Lyndhurst has received a royal seal of approval.
The 140-year-old Victorian Boultbee Cottages have been given a prestigious award by the Prince of Wales after undergoing a £600,000 restoration programme.
The Trustees of the Grade II listed almshouses worked closely with planners and building conservation experts at the New Forest National Park Authority to ensure the buildings were brought up to modern standards but maintained the traditional character of the buildings.
Almshouses provide affordable housing for the vulnerable or needy and are run by local charitable trusts. The Emery Down Almshouses Trust has spent over five years raising the funds to restore and extend the five cottages which had become uninhabitable.
Jan Smart, Chairman of the trustees, said: “This is an unexpected honour and marks the completion of a long and frequently-daunting project. Emery Down is a very small village and without local support the plan to restore and extend the Almshouses would never have been attempted. The renovated cottages are a source of pride and the homes they provide are a joy to their tenants.
“The intense interest shown in this scheme has emphasised the severe shortage of affordable housing to locals within the National Park. We are delighted to have been able to make a small contribution and at the same time to enhance the appearance of our picturesque village.”
Prince Charles is the patron of the Almshouses Association and gave his Patron’s Award to the Emery Down scheme, one of only two awarded this year. The awards celebrate excellence in architectural and living standards and recognise outstanding projects and developments.
Commenting on the scheme HRH the Prince of Wales said: “I hope the Award scheme will encourage all trustees who are considering building or altering the almshouses of which they are custodians to strive for the highest standards and thus to leave a legacy of which we can be justly proud.”
Pat Wyeth, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority Planning Committee, said: “The Grade II Boultbee cottages are an important part of the National Park’s heritage. Our planning and building design teams have been working with the trustees and architects since they first approached us in 2010 to ensure the restoration scheme of these Grade II properties was the best for the Forest and for future tenants. Advice included looking at traditional materials and keeping the modest scale of the buildings so they still look like traditional almshouses but at the same time bringing them up to modern standards. We’re delighted to see the finished scheme and that it has won such a prestigious and well-deserved award.”
The trustees are hoping the Prince will visit the Grade II listed cottages to present the plaque personally.
Much of the restoration cash came from the Almshouses Association, the Homes and Communities Agency and local donations. The Trust has had to take out a £240,000 mortgage to cover the rest of the cost and the trustees are appealing for donations. They can be sent to: Clerk to the Trustees Roger Riley, Home Farm, Emery Down, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FH.
Today there are around 1,800 almshouse charities. They provide 31,000 almshouses in the United Kingdom accommodating around 36,000 people.
Boultbee Cottages facts
- The cottages are named after Emery Down’s main benefactor Admiral Frederick Boultbee
- He moved to the village in 1856 and built the church in 1864, with the school and almshouses constructed in 1871
- The almshouses cost £120 to build
- The architect of the cottages was William Butterfield of the Oxford Movement and they are Gothic revival in character
- Admiral Boultbee died in 23 November 1876 and is buried in Christ Church, Emery Down.