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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Shortage of tenants wanting a Cumbrian home to rent for £10-a-week

Historic cottages in Appleby are being rented out for just £10 a week – if you’re a single lady aged over 50 who needs somewhere to live.

Appleby cottages photo
Valerie Kendall, left and Alice Richardso

The St Anne’s Almshouse has been offering housing sanctuary for more than 350 years.

Originally intended to provide homes only for women in dire need, the criteria has been widened over the years.

In the past there has been no shortage of ladies wanting to move into one of the Boroughgate almshouses.

But the board of the St Anne’s Hospital Trust have now found themselves with a seemingly inexplicable lack of interest in the scheme.

There are 13 self-contained cottages on the 17th century complex, four of which are currently empty.

Close to the town centre and grouped around a picturesque cobbled courtyard, tenants have their own chapel which is still regularly used for services.

Trustee Alice Palmer said: “We are surprised by the vacancies, at one time there would have been a waiting list but that’s changed over the last year.”

Alice, who is also a local historian, is unsure of the exact reason why.

She thinks a lack of awareness of the trust’s existence and modern ways of living are at least partly to blame though.

St Anne’s newest tenant only found out about the cottages when her relatives in Ravonstonedale stumbled hard about the trust by chance.

Valerie Kendall, 75, moved from Yorkshire to Cumbria five weeks ago and couldn’t be happier with her new home, especially because she now has family close by.

Valerie said: “It was a life-changing decision.

“I’d been a city councillor in Leeds for seven years but had just lost my seat, and my councillor’s allowance.

“I had a couple of part-time jobs but that was it.

“I think St Anne’s is absolutely lovely, I really can’t understand why there are vacancies.

“It’s been lovely moving from a city to a small town and finding how relaxed it is and how friendly the people are.”

The almshouses were founded by Lady Anne Clifford in 1653.

Due to concerns about the ladies having to beg for money or run up debts, they were each given a small living allowance.

These days residents are no longer required to attend daily prayers in the chapel, or ask permission to be away from their homes as they can now come and go as they please.

However Alice says that Lady Anne’s advice for the ladies to ‘live peaceably together’ is still considered worth following.

She added: “The work of the trustees remains much the same as when the almshouse was founded – providing and maintaining homes for ladies in need with quietly thoughtful care for their welfare.”

For further details about the cottages contact Lord Hothfield on 017683 51487.

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