*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.
In another exciting edition of #ThrowbackThursday, we discuss the Sherborne Almshouse. This photograph is located in the Don Blair collection, taken back on September 7, 1936, in Sherborne, England. The Don Blair collection is available online on http://digitalarchives.usi.edu/digital/ by clicking on “Don Blair collection”.
Sherborne is located in the southwestern part of England, near the English Channel. At one time, Sherborne served as the capital for the Wessex Kingdom. On the estate, there is an abbey and castle is located there; however, the Sherborne Castle has an interesting history. In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I gave Sir Walter Raleigh ownership of the abbey (until she discovered Raleigh married and bore a child with Bess Throckmorton, one of her maids). It was battle site during the English Civil War and numerous kings have visited such as William of Orange and George III. The Digby family presently owns the castle since 1617 (St. Johns’ House, n.d.).
The almshouse is still there on the property. Unlike today, almshouses were extremely common from the European colonial era until the 20th Century. They were notable known as “poor houses” and “county homes”: their main residences were “social outcasts” such as “… the mentally ill, the epileptic, the mentally retarded, the blind, the deaf …, the crippled, the tuberculous, and the destitute aged” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d.). Today, the almshouse still exists and is a tourist attraction.
Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (n.d.). Almshouse. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/almshouse
St. Johns’ House (n.d.). About Sherborne. Retrieved from http://www.stjohnshouse.org/about-sherborne/