The Almshouse has provided shelter and care for the people of Sherborne for over 500 years. It was built in the 15th Century for “12 poor men and 4 poor women” and is now home to 18 elderly residents (and a very old tortoise). Dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, it was founded in 1437. Extended and restored, it is one of Dorset’s oldest serving almshouse and is still in use today serving its original purpose of providing housing to 18 elderly residents of the town. It is run by trustees elected from local citizens.
The almshouse construction began in 1440, the chapel was completed in 1442, and the remainder of the building is 1445. It was built in the form of a monastic infirmary with an eastern chapel and nave of two floors. The cloister, a hall passage and two north wings were added in 1864.
Visitors may view the chapel and antechapel which are divided by an open oak screen. In the chapel is a significant three-panelled altar piece, an artistic treasure of national importance. Guided tours to view the triptych and the historic building, including the original dining room and examples of the traditional uniforms, are available from May to September inclusive on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons between 2.00 to 4.00pm.