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    Almshouses of London and Westminster: their role in lay piety and the relief of poverty, 1330-1600

    Lennard-Brown, Sarah (2021) Almshouses of London and Westminster: their role in lay piety and the relief of poverty, 1330-1600. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis examines the birth and early years of a new institution, the almshouse, in late-medieval and early-modern City of London and Westminster. Almshouses, small, poor institutions, have been sadly neglected in favour of the study of larger, better documented hospitals. But almshouses were important, sitting figuratively and literally at the heart of the community. This thesis examines what motivated the foundation of almshouses, their role in physical and spiritual health and the support of the elderly and disabled in London. It also investigates how almshouses functioned as an institution, their social and spiritual role within the urban community, and places them in the wider context of institutions in Europe. Evidence from fifty-two foundations has been analysed, from small poor parish almshouses to larger, more elaborate establishments, including those founded by lay people, royalty, religious organisations, and City Companies. A large range of sources have been identified and a gazetteer produced. This thesis demonstrates that almshouses were complex institutions that aimed to ensure the continuing well-being of the founders, administrators, residents, and local community. They were carefully designed to promote spiritual and bodily health and reduce poverty, and gave residents the opportunity to engage in a spiritual pilgrimage of study, prayer, and contemplation. Almspeople represented an active link between the communities of the living and the dead within the urban area and played a visible role in the civic ceremony of the city. Within a wider European context almshouses represented a localised variation of the specialisation of hospitals that was taking place across the whole of Europe at this time. This study informs our understanding of the development of specialised hospitals, social policy and poor relief in the Medieval and Tudor periods, and extends our knowledge about the exercise of lay piety and charity within the urban landscape.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2021 15:30
    Last Modified: 13 Oct 2021 15:30


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