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Title: The Royal Almshouse at Westminster, c.1500- c.1600
Author: Fox, Christine Merie
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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This dissertation provides a study of Henry VII's almshouse at Westminster Abbey from its foundation, c.1500, throughout the Dissolutions of the sixteenth century, up to the Elizabethan Reformation; a period covering just over a hundred years. The almshouse was built in conjunction with Henry VII's new Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey and helped to support his chantry while providing care to ex-crown officials who had served the King and Abbey loyally. Henry VII's Lady Chapel at the Abbey has been studied extensively but the almshouse has been omitted from most of these studies. There is an extensive and diverse range of primary source material, mostly in the Westminster Muniments [WAM], and National Archive [TNA] relating to the almshouse. These sources range from social, architectural, economic, and political aspects to the everyday functions of the almshouse. These sources also provide some detail about the almsmen. Surviving both the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Reformation the almshouse has a remarkable history and was able to continue its service to the Crown until its demolition in 1779. Along with the primary source material relating to Henry VII's almshouse, a contextual study of medieval almshouses will also be provided to highlight what was distinctive about Henry's almshouse. In particular, this study intends to examine the foundations and administrations of the following almshouses: Richard Whittington's almshouse founded in 1423/4 and overseen by the Mercer's Company; God's House in Ewelme founded in 1437 by William and Alice de le Pole, and finally, St. Cross at Winchester established by Henry VII's great, great uncle Cardinal Beaufort. These were the grandest almshouses founded in England before Henry's foundation, and exercised a significant influence on the style and administration of Henry's almshouse at Westminster Abbey. The thesis is broken into four chapters. The first chapter focuses on the foundation of the almshouse using the original indentures established by the King and Abbot John Islip. The second chapter is an analysis of the endowment for Henry VII's memorial at Westminster Abbey with a specific focus on provisions Henry made towards the almshouse. The third chapter looks at the almshouse site and buildings and how it survived the turbulent period of the Dissolution and reformations of the Abbey. Finally, the fourth chapter is an analysis of the almsmen and administration of the almshouse during the sixteenth century. This study will contribute to current work on the transformation of medieval charity into Protestant philanthropy; the practicalities of administering almshouses on a day to day basis; the topography and development of the vill of Westminster and, in particular, to a deeper understanding of the piety and charity of the last medieval and first Tudor King of England.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Henry VII ; Almshouse ; Memorial ; Tudor ; Westminster Abbey