|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 15th February, 1952, transcribed by Jim Hollis
Almshouses go Modern
Rushden’s 19th century almshouses occupied continuously since 1883 by elderly widows are being modernised. A block of four cottages, standing back from the Wellingborough Road, they were erected by the Sartoris family of Rushden Hall in memory of one of their sons.
When they were built, Mrs. Ellen Pettet, who has occupied No. 32 for the past 15 years, was a girl of 12. At 81 she is now the senior resident and can recall many of the interesting phases of the old days before the cottages became the responsibility of the Urban Council.
The rent, a sum of one penny per week, used to be collected annually by “old Mrs. Sartoris” herself. Invariably after collecting the 4s. 4d. Mrs. Sartoris would hand two shillings back to her tenant. A bedstead, all bed linen, curtains and mats used to be provided together with coal. Groceries were a frequent gift.
Mrs. Pettet was provided with a bedstead when she moved in, and until a few years ago, when the Rotary Club provided electricity, oil lamps would be the only means of lighting the one bed-sitting room and minute kitchen.
When the question of repairs came before the Council recently members were of the opinion that the houses ought to be brought up to present day standards and, accordingly, structural alterations and re-decoration at a cost of £2,000 is being carried out.
As the builders moved in, so Mrs. Pettet and her neighbours Mrs. F. Lowe and Mrs. Kate Knight moved out. They left all their worldly possessions in the centre of their only room; the aspidistras flourishing on the window sills, and the original photographs of the cottages (presented by the Sartoris family and handed down from tenant to tenant) hanging on the walls. All three are now with relatives in various parts of the town.
“I didn’t want to leave. I love my home and I’m longing to go back,” Mrs. Pettet told us, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Ida Hester, 16, Station Road.
When Mrs. Pettet and her neighbours move back in about three months’ time they are due for a pleasant surprise. In addition to the re-decorated bed-sitting room they will find they have an improved kitchen with a larder, cooker, fuel store, and perhaps best of all, a bathroom and indoor W.C. There will be a constant supply of hot water and radiators in the kitchen and bathroom. The bath will be one of the latest special types suitable for old people.
Re-roofing and plastering will have been carried out; the walls thickened and the leaded light windows removed and replaced by new ones of similar attractive style.
But still remaining will be the plaque bearing the words: “In Dei Gloriam These almshouses were erected to the memory of Fredk. Maitland Sartoris of Rushden Hall by his father and mother, 1883.”
And the fourth cottage will be standing empty it has been unoccupied since its last tenant died about a year ago.