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The Donyatt Almshouse Charity
The Dunster Almshouses – a row of six cottages with mullioned windows and four centred doorheads, stand in Church Street, formerly known as Tower Street.
They were founded by John Dunster, a citizen and cloth worker of London. In his will, dated 29th August 1625, he bequeathed the almshouses and the then very substantial sum of £500 "towards the perpetual maintenance and substantiation of six poor people, viz three men and three women to be always placed in the Almshouses in Donyatt." John Dunster also stated in his will that "every of the same men be age of fiftie and six years of age at the least and single and unmarried, and every of the same women be fiftie years of age at least and sole and unmarried.".
The income devised from that endowment provided each almshouse resident with three shillings (15p) a week and a bonus of ten shillings (50p) at Christmas, to buy fuel and necessities. In addition, each man was given a blue great coat and each woman a cloak.
The Trustees of the will were William Dunster (John’s brother), John Goss (of Merriot), William Walron (Rowlands) and Humphrey Walron (Sea). The Walron family were the Lords of the Manor of Sea and their manor house is now known as Sea Mills Farm. Those Trustees were enjoined in the will "to appoint five trustees to administer the Almshouse Charity, namely the Rector of Donyatt, the two Churchwardens and two overseers of the poor of the parish." In spite of the appointment of the Rector and Churchwardens, this is not an ecclesiastical charity.
Nowadays the charity abides by the Charity Commission practices and has help and guidance from the National Association of Almshouses.
For further information, including availability, please contact the trustees, either Andy Watson on 01460-55673 or Tony Taylor on 01460-57227.