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Peter Sotheran  'Sir William Turner and his Alms Houses'.

Peter Sotheran is a well known business man with strong local connections. He is also Chairman of the Trustees of the 'Sir William Turner Hospital’ at Kirkleatham.  No medical doctors are involved, the word hospital is used in its original sense of almshouses for the elderly poor.  The Hospital was built by Sir William Turner who was born in Guisborough in 1615, the third son with little prospect of inheriting his father’s estate.

He left for London where he prospered as a business man &was recognised as an able administrator.  Following the Great Fire of 1666, which destroyed a large swathe of the capital,  Sir William became Lord Mayor in 1669, to oversee the reconstruction of London in less flammable materials  & to a higher specification.  . He built a large imposing house for himself in Cheapside to entertain his many associates. He  was related to Samuel Pepys.

When he retired to Kirkleatham, a rich man, he was still a bachelor. He used a substantial part of his fortune to create the Hospital as almshouses to care for 10 old men and 10 old women and also as a charity school for 10 poor boys and 10 poor girls who were either orphans or neglected children.

The Turner family continued to fund & administer the Hospital until 1950, when the estate was sold, & the Hospital became a charitable trust.  The building was in a poor state of repair & the almshouses were no longer financially viable.  The school was closed.   At this point Peter Sotheran & others became trustees.

Antique furniture & a magnificent, but crumbling, wooden chandelier were sold for about one million pounds. The proceeds have been used to refurbish the building; the size of each individual apartment has been doubled by combining two together.  Each apartment is equipped & furnished to modern standards.  Rents have been increased but are still affordable.

The building is among the oldest in the North-East & has remained essentially externally unaltered. . Other than cathedrals & churches, it is unique as being still used for its original purpose.  The'Sir William Turner Hospital’ is a Listed Grade 1 Property, with many noteworthy architectural features & well worth a visit.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Dick Hawkins