John Betjeman, said of The Blue House that it ‘is situated where an almshouse ought to be – in the centre of town.’ The idea was to keep the residents close to the market and involved in the life of Frome.
The original building was erected in the mid-1400s. William Leversedge, the compassionate Lord of the Manor, wanted to do something about the homeless of Frome. He built a hall, a chapel, and twelve separate rooms in a 4½ acre garden.
Benefactors and Charitable Donations
Over the years, the Blue House enjoyed many benefactors and charitable donations (some anonymous). These have included six cows left for the relief of the ‘poure people’. He also left 4d ‘to (be given to) every poor person of the Almshouse in Frome’. A wealthy London City merchant, who was born in Frome, left £30 to be shared weekly by the residents, as well as a loaf of bread each. This money was also to be spent on sermons at St John’s, dinner and a gift of gloves for the vicar and the trustees of the Blue House.
In about 1690, James Wickham, married into the local Whitchurch family and became very involved in the community. It is believed that he was related to William of Wykeham, founder of Winchester College. Wykeham who was the first to use the expression ‘manners maketh man’. In the 1720s Wickham raised £1,401 8s 9d for the renovation of the almshouse. It was to be used for twenty female widows and a new school for twenty boys. An additional £12 8s was raised for the two statues at the front of the Blue House. These are on ‘Billy Ball’ and ‘Nancy Guy’. They represent the widows and the school boys.
The school closed in 1921. Today the noble Blue House is home to 16 residents and is symbolic of the town of Frome.
This Frome story was published in the Frome Times on 11th April 2013
The Blue Boar Inn is right next door to the Blue House.