Thomas Guy,Town Hall and Almshouses
Thomas Guy’s Almshouses stand on Lower Gungate, The Almshouses were built in 1678 at a cost of £200 by Thomas Guy. They provided housing for 7 poor women. Each resident had their own entrance and living room and the large central garden was used to cultivate vegetables. The facilities also included a large library that housed the books of reverend John Rawlett. In 1692 the Almshouses were extended to allow men as well as women to take advantage of the facilities.
The original Almshouses stood for 234 years before being demolished in 1912. The were rebuilt on the same site in the ‘Free Georgian’ architectural style of the original. They were later amended and extended in 1928 and 1936 and have remained unchanged since.
In 1708, Thomas Guy banned residents of Tamworth from the Almshouses. Those able to benefit from the Almshouses were restricted to his own relatives and people living in the outlying villages of Amington, Bolehall, Glascote, Hopwas, Wigginton and Wilnecote. This restriction is still in place today, with the stone plaque above the main entrance reading ‘Guy’s Almshouses for relations and Hamleteers’.
Thomas Guy was born born in 1644 in Southwark, South-East London, his father, Thomas Guy Senior was a Lighterman, Coalmonger and Carpenter with a wharf on the banks of the river Thames, his mother, Ann Vaughton, originated from Tamworth.
In 1652 when Guy was just eight years old and the eldest of three children, his father died suddenly. Guy’s mother returned the family to her home town of Tamworth. Guy was educated at Tamworth’s Free Grammar School that used to stand on Lower Gungate.
In 1660, at the age of 16, he was apprenticed to John Clark, a bookbinder in London. Completing his 8 year apprenticeship, Guy set up business as a bookseller and publisher, success and fortune soon followed.
In 1677 Guy paid for the refurbishment of Tamworth’s Free Grammar School. In 1678 he purchased land opposite the Grammar School where he built the Almshouses. He also funded the building of the Town Hall in 1701.
Guy was elected to Parliament in 1695 and served the town as MP until 1708. When the people of Tamworth failed to re-elect him, angry at their ingratitude, he threatened to demolish the Town Hall and banned the people of Tamworth from his Almshouses.
Rejecting Tamworth, he turned his attention back to London where he personally financed the building of Guy’s Hospital, Southwark in 1722.
Guy died at home on December 27, 1724 after visiting the hospital site. He never got to see the project completed. He never married and left his fortune to Guy’s Hospital, which opened in 1725.