The Andrew Windsor Almshouses: providing affordable housing for 400 years

Our 1000th loan paid for urgent repairs to a 400-year-old almshouse building which provides low cost accommodation for people in straitened circumstances.

The Andrew Windsor Almshouse charity has been providing homes to elderly people since 1620, but was unable to obtain grant funding for essential repairs to the roof of the 17th century properties.

Social Problem

According to Age UK, 35 percent of pensioners who rent privately live in poverty. Housing benefit doesn’t always cover the full cost of rent, particularly in desirable areas, so it can be difficult to make ends meet. To find affordable housing, people often have to move to a different area, away from their friends and family.


The Andrew Windsor Almshouse charity has been providing affordable homes in Farnham, Surrey, for 400 years and focuses on local people over 60. Most tenants are widows on housing benefit. There are 10 almshouses in total, four of which were built in 1620 and a further six were built in the 1970’s.


These 17th century properties were in urgent need of major roof repairs, but the charity was unable to access any grant funding and was required to raise the necessary funding by means of a loan. Charity Bank stepped in with a loan of £250,000. The building is now watertight, and the accommodation provided is secured for many years ahead.


Thanks to Andrew Windsor Almshouses, people are able to stay in the community they love. The homes are a short walk from local shops and have good public transport links. There’s also a communal garden where residents can socialise. The new roofs have ensured the preservation of the 17th century accommodation for many years to come.

“Charity Bank is ethically compatible with us. It was a case of charity talking to charity and understanding each other’s needs. The ethos of the organisation sat well with us and the initial discussions progressed well. The rate of interest was as good as we’d get elsewhere. Our Loans Manager came to visit me at my house. I told him the charity’s requirements and we went forward from there.”

Michael McAleenan, Chair, Andrew Windsor Almshouses

“I always say I landed in Farnham. I found myself sleeping on a put-up bed on the floor of my daughter’s living room. My ex left me suddenly after over 30 years of marriage. I was left with nothing. No house to sell, literally no money in the bank (or anywhere else). As my brother put it, I was destitute. My son-in-law saw an advertisement for a vacancy in an almshouse. I was granted one. It has changed my life. Friends and family have commented on the change in me, a positive one. One they thought they would never witness. I will be forever grateful for being given the opportunity to live in an almshouse. I say, in all honesty, it is truly a blessing.”

A resident

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,000 loans totalling over £300m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.