Sir William Turner’s Hospital, founded 1676
As he approached retirement, Sir William Turner founded his almshouses on the family estates at Kirkleatham. Officially known as Sir William Turner’s Hospital it was never a medical establishment. The word ‘hospital’ is used in the old-fashioned sense, meaning a place offering hospitality. That hospitality was in the form of free accommodation for 10 elderly men, 10 elderly women and up to 20 orphaned boys and girls.
The almshouses are now listed a Grade 1 Listed historic building due to the quality of its building and its historic connections.
At the centre of the building, beneath the domed tower stands the chapel, virtually unaltered since it was remodelled in 1742. The stained glass windows are of national importance having been painted by Thomas Price in the 1740s. Price’s other surviving windows include several at Westminster Abbey and a number of the churches in the City of London.
On display in the chapel are several interesting artefacts including the life-size death mask of Sir William Turner, the original letters patent granted by King Charles II to Sir William Turner and a copy of Mary Beale’s full-length portrait of Sir William dating from the 1660s.
The east wing, on the left as you enter, originally housed the elderly women and the schoolgirls. The women each had a ground floor cottage and the first floor provided a classroom, museum and library for the girls. The men and boys were similarly accommodated in the west wing. Statues set in niches at first floor level near the entrance to the courtyard indicate where the men and women were accommodated.
The houses either side of the chapel at the head of the courtyard were for the schoolmistress and the headmaster of the school that was provided for the young people. Small statues on the corners of the chapel roof indicate the accommodation for the boys and girls in their attic dormitories above the teachers’ rooms.
The school closed in the 1940s and the entire building has been converted to provide 25 flats for people in their retirement years. Set in 3 acres of parkland, the almshouses also provide a small unit for occasional visitors, a laundry and a residents’ lounge.
Typical accommodation in a first floor flat
Applicants must be over the age of 60 and must have an ‘identifiable need’ to justify the support of the charity that maintains and runs the almshouses. Residents make a monthly contribution (‘rent’) towards the upkeep of the building and the services provided by the trustees.
Sir William Turner’s Hospital is a private charitable trust. It has no direct links with the local authority and does not receive any significant statutory funding. It is completely separate from its ‘sister’ organisation the Sir William Turner Foundation that supports education in the town.
The building is not normally open to the public. Those intending to apply for residence and small groups interested in local history may visit by appointment.
Clerk to the Trustees
1 Sir William Turner’s Almshouses,
Kirkleatham, Redcar, TS10 4QT
Tel: 01642 482828