The Almshouses of Nantwich includes the Almshouses of Sir Edmund Wright, Crewe, incorporating the Wilbraham Almshouse Charity, the Wood and Garnett Alsmhouse Charity, the William Hodgkin Charity and Richardson Homes Charity.
Almshouses have been part of this country’s life for centuries. In Nantwich it all began with one rather ambitious young man who rose from humble beginnings to Lord Mayor of London.
Edmund Wright, son of Rondall Wright of Nantwich, was born on Hospital Street. Although his exact date of birth is not known, the Parish Register in St Mary’s Church records his baptism on 24th November 1573.
At some point he departed to London and became a grocer in Whitechapel and member of the Grocers Company. He prospered and was made an Alderman of the City and then Lord Mayor in 1641.
Nantwich historian James Hall wrote of Edmund Wright, ‘The pious founder of Hospital Street Almshouses,’ in his notes of 1899 telling of a rags to riches tale most common in the Elizabethan age. Around ten when the Great Fire of Nantwich devastated the town in 1583, and 15 when England was threatened with invasion by the Spanish Armarda, Hall likens his story to Dick Whittington.
Elizabeth’s reign was a golden age of commercial wealth and activity – an age of opulence and enterprise that has only been surpassed in our own times. Edmund Wright was most likely attracted to the metropolis, like many youths from the country were, by prospects and fame and fortune. Many persons of Cheshire birth rose to eminence in London in the days of Queen Bess. It is somewhat remarkable that no pretty story of the ‘Dick Whittington and his cat’ type which so often serves to embellish the lives of self-made men, has been handed down to account for Edmund Wright leaving his native town for London – James Hall
Rising to affluence over 20 -30 years, Wright purchased a fine country estate to the west of London. In 1641, he knelt before King Charles and rose Sir Edmund Wright, Kt.
On 20th August, 1638 he conveyed by deed to 13 trustees, his newly erected Almshouses on London Road, Nantwich. These Nantwich Almshouses were for the benefit of six poor men aged over 50 who were natives of the town and belonged to the Church of England.
Centuries later they were moved to Beam Street where his gift to Nantwich still benefits the town.