Young family move into the first new almshouse to be built by an historic charity in a Harborough village for about 100 years

The local couple and their two little girls are renting the three-bedroom bungalow on a quiet lane in Hallaton

Monday, 16th August 2021, 5:54 pm
Rosie Sweeney from Almshouse Association, Jane Aaron clerk, Peter Crewe chairman, Alicia Kearns MP, with Ryan Kirby and daughters Bella (6) and Layla (8), new owners. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

A thrilled young family have moved into the first new almshouse to be built by an historic charity in a Harborough village for about 100 years.

The local couple and their two little girls are renting the three-bedroom bungalow on a quiet lane in Hallaton.

The accessible single-storey property, which cost about £210,000, has been built by the Hallaton & Isabella Stenning Trust.

Alicia Kearns MP and Peter Crewe chairman, with help from Bella Kirby (6) and Layla Kirby (8) new owners. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

The bungalow was officially unveiled at a special ceremony on Wednesday (August 11) as the ribbon was cut by Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns.

Charity trustee Emma Smith said: “We are delighted to build our first new almshouse in Hallaton since the early 1920s.

“We’ve been fighting to build it in the village since 2006 because, unfortunately, there have been some objections from local people.

“But we are so pleased for the well deserving young family who have moved in to rent it out,” said Emma, who owns Diamond Mowers on Bath Street, Market Harborough.

Keys handed over to new residents...from left, Rosie Sweeney of Almshouse Association, Layla Kirby (8), Alicia Kearns MP, Peter Crewe chairman, Bella Kirby (8), Ryan Kirby and Amanda Kirby. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“They’ve got a great outdoor space there in a beautiful spot and it’s ideal for the two young girls.

“We had Rosie Sweeney from the national Almshouse Association turn up as well as all our six charity trustees, our very busy clerk and the residents of our 16 almshouses in Hallaton.

“One of the women in the village prepared a brilliant full buffet and it was just such a fantastic feelgood occasion to be part of.”

Set up way back in 1896 when Queen Victoria still sat on the throne, the Hallaton & Isabella Stenning Trust has built the new bungalow as it celebrates its 125th anniversary.

“We get monthly maintenance contributions from our existing residents which go into a big pot as well as endowment fund money available,” said Emma, who also runs a pub near Looe in Cornwall.

“We want to provide affordable accommodation for local people who have a connection to Hallaton, who are on low incomes and who want to stay in the village.

“Houses are very expensive to buy in Hallaton.

“And you can’t rent privately in the village for less than £800-£900 a month whereas we charge just £300-£400.

“So the homes we rent out are an absolute godsend for people who’d otherwise be forced to move away and live elsewhere,” stressed Emma, who said the thriving 19th century charity is run by a small band of active volunteers.

“We have already got planning permission for another two bungalows.

“We own and maintain the very popular village hall, the Stenning Hall, the village recreation ground and the village allotments as well as our 16 almshouses.

“They are all huge assets.

“It’s so laudable and so fulfilling that we are still building new homes for people in Hallaton well into the 21st century.

“The builder working on our new almshouse very sadly went bust halfway through the work as a result of the Covid pandemic.

“So we’d like to say a massive thank you to an army of local craftsmen such as electricians, carpenters and plumbers who’ve come along to finish it over the last 18 months,” said Emma.

“They’ve been fantastic and we are just so glad that a very grateful Hallaton family have been able to move in.

“I’m sure they’ll be very happy there.”