A special event has been held in Burnham-On-Sea to mark the historic anniversary of a set of almshouses.

Ellen’s Cottages in Burnham’s Berrow Road were built in 1868 with an endowment given by philanthropist John Saunders in memory of his late wife.

The cottages have since been offered to “poor widows and spinsters of good character” and are now overseen by a charitable trust, which is marking its 75th year, and is a member of the Almshouses Association.

This week’s event was attended by over 50 local people including the charitable trust’s trustees, local residents and dignitaries.

The function started with a period of silence and a tribute to The Queen from Burnham’s Mayor Cllr Lesley Millard and a prayer from Rev Graham Witts.

Trustee Tony Roost explained the history behind the cottages and its link with the philanthropist. He called the building “a real historic gem.”

He noted that philanthropist John Saunders was born in 1809 and his father was a successful wine importer.  When John’s wife Ellen Louisa died at age 53 in Burnham in 1865, he decided to build Ellen’s Cottages in her memory for the benefit of ‘poor women’.

His will amounted to £80,000, which in today’s money would amount to around £9.5milliion. The money was left to hospitals, a refuge and charities that helped people with untreatable diseases, the destitute, and homeless.

During this week’s event, Nick Phillips, Chief Executive of the Almshouses Association, praised the local team who oversee the building, adding that they have had to undertake major repair work in recent years.

The Mayor added that the building is “a wonderful community asset” that will benefit local people for years to come.

The residents of the almshouses joined in the event to mark the anniversary

Nick Phillips, Chief Executive of the Almshouses Association, praised the local team who oversee the building

The event included music from the King Alfred Concert Band

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