Almshouses providing accommodation for retired workers from the knitting and hosiery trades have been the Company’s major Charity since 1729. The first Almshouses were built in Hoxton, just to the east of the City of London, and often were maintained with great difficulty. Indeed, the Company sold its silver in 1861 to provide funds to maintain the homes. It also became more difficult to find suitable tenants as framework knitting had long left London.

Consequently, the London Almshouses were sold in 1906 and the proceeds used to build twenty cottages at Oadby in Leicestershire on land gifted in trust to the Company. A further five cottages were subsequently built, thanks to support from the industry, and in 1927 HRH The Prince of Wales visited the Homes and planted a commemorative oak tree. In 1989/90 Corah House, comprising four flatlets and a communal room, was built, mainly due to the generosity of the J.R. Corah Foundation, the Corah family having had a long association with the Company.

Two cottages were demolished in 1999 and, again mainly due to the generosity of the J.R. Corah Foundation, were rebuilt to modern almshouse standards. The rebuilding of ten cottages was completed in 2006, and they were formally opened by the Duke of Gloucester on 26th July that year. Several other dwellings have been refurbished, and a rolling programme continues to bring all of the accommodation up to modern standards. The full support of both the Livery and organisations sympathetic to the almshouse concept has been essential to maintain the estate and to achieve these vital improvements.

How to apply

The Homes are available to retired people of limited means who have spent the major part of their working lives in the knitting industry or allied trades. There is accommodation for thirty-nine residents. They live independently, but benefit from being in a small community of people with similar backgrounds and life experience. Communal activities are arranged by both the Company and by the residents themselves. Management and overall supervision is provided by a Committee of Managers in accordance with the terms of the Almshouse Charities Trust Deed.

Applicants (or their spouses) must:

  • Have worked in the industry for most of their lives, both shop floor and managerial are eligible.
  • Be over 60 years of age and have retired from employment.
  • Be in reasonable health and able to look after themselves (there are no nursing facilities).
  • Be able to furnish their accommodation.
  • Have assets not exceeding £75,000.

The Homes Administrator who administers the Almshouses is on site most weekdays for approximately four hours and is responsible for running the Cottage Homes and generally acting as a ‘good neighbour’ to the residents. Full contact details can be found under the 'Contact Us' section.