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In 1400 the Guild of Our Lady of Pity was established in Saffron Walden by Charter from Henry VI following a bequest of £40 from John and Eleanor Butler. A purpose of the Guild was to provide Almshouses for “13 poor men such as be lame, crooked, blind and bedridden and most at need”. Many local benefactors gave gifts of land and money. The infamous Mazer Bowl, once drunk from and referred to by Samuel Pepys, was such a gift and it now rests in the British Museum. By Act of Edward VI the lands and estate were devolved to the King but he agreed to return them to the Town in his name and so they have continued. In the 19th Century the Trust greatly benefitted from the Quaker Gibson Family and other units have been added since.

Saffron Walden Almshouses is a member of the Almshouse Association which was formed in 1946 to support the work of the nation’s Almshouses.