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Sir Robert Hitcham’s Almshouse Charity Trustees Visit

In the same will in which he left Framlingham Castle to Pembroke, Sir Robert Hitcham requested the building of a row of 12 almshouses in the town.

These almshouses still stand and are in active use today as supported accommodation for local people who are elderly or infirm.  A Fellow of Pembroke is always among the trustees of the Sir Robert Hitcham Almshouse Charity.  Many of the other trustees visited Pembroke for the first time this month, and were given a tour of the College. They were also able to view historical documents relating to Framlingham.

Following their arrival the Trustees were taken on a tour of the library by librarian Patricia Aske, exploring the Waterhouse library and the Rosenthal Art Library, which, thanks to the generous bequest of the late Tom Rosenthal (1956), is one of the best-provided College libraries for Art History, with thousands of books on art and architectural history.

Following this, Honorary Archivist Jayne Ringrose had arranged a display of manuscripts from the College’s archives that relate to Framlingham, where the almshouses are located.  From estate accounts and a list of supplies from a 1652 Feast – well-stocked, despite Cromwell’s rule at the time – to fantastically detailed surveyor’s drawings by Isaac Johnson, these texts provide a view of Framlingham history of equal interest for academic and aesthetic reasons.

Drawings of Framlingham, maps of the town as it was in the 18th century, land use accounts, and petitions from residents regarding the market; all of these documents provide a window into the past.  Looking back over the length of the town’s history, it is wonderful to think that the almshouses which featured in a manuscript from the 1700s are still actively in use in Framlingham today.

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