The Donnington Hospital Trust (otherwise known
as The Hospital of Queen Elizabeth in Donnington) is the oldest
charity in Berkshire. Founded in 1393 by Sir Richard Abberbury,
the Trust manages 50 almshouses and provides pensions to over
20 retired people in need. The Trust also makes charitable donations
to a variety of local charities and organisations throughout
Berkshire and Oxfordshire.
Sir Richard Abberbury founded Donnington Hospital by Royal
Licence, granted by King Richard II, to provide almshouses
for twelve poor men and a Minister. In return the almsmen
“to pray for the state of Sir Richard Abberbury,
his sonne, and Anne his wife, all his heyres that live and
for the soules of Sir Richard Abberbury, Knight, our founder
and Anne his wife”.
In addition, the almsmen were obliged to attend mass daily
at Donnington Friary in the Chapel of the Friars of the Holy
Cross (Crutched Friars) which was also endowed by Sir Richard
Sir Richard endowed the Hospital with the Manor of Iffley
in the City of Oxford and it was from this land that the Trust
devolved its income. The Hospital fell into a poor state of
repair in the late sixteenth century. The Manor and Castle
of Donnington had become the property of the Crown. In 1600
Queen Elizabeth I granted the Manor to Charles, Lord Howard
of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham for his part in the defect
of the Spanish Armada.
On 25th November 1602 the Queen made a Grant of Refoundation
for the Hospital renaming it, “The Hospital of Queen
Elizabeth in Donnington”. In return the Lord of the
Manor is required to pay to the Sovereign:
“a rent of one red rose to be paid annually and
at the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist”
A tradition that is maintained to this day.
In the mid seventeenth century the Hospital was rebuilt and
the affairs of the Trust continued broadly unaltered until
the beginning of twentieth century. The expansion of Oxford
provided the Trust with fresh capital. In 1938 the Trust built
13 almshouses at Abberbury Close in Donnington, Berkshire.
In 1960 four flats were built at Iffley in Oxford. Twelve
further units were built in Bucklebury, Berkshire between
1970 and 1983. In 1992 a new development of twelve almshouses
in Donnington was built to commemorate the Trust’s sexcentenary.
Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened
the new almshouses and visited Donnington Hospital in February
1993. In 1995 the College of Arms granted supporters to the
Hospital’s Arms. In December 2009 it was announced that
The Fishmongers' Company would apply to the Charity Commission
for a Scheme to transfer the trusteeship of Jesus Hospital,
Bray to Donnington
Hospital. Jesus Hospital is a Grade 1 Listed quadrangle of
17 almshouses in the centre of Bray. This has taken the number
of almshouses under the Trust's management to 67.
The work of DHT is self financing and we receive
no public funding. The Manor of Iffley together with
other property in Oxford and Berkshire provide the income
to support the work of the Trust.
The Trust provides almshouses to married couples, single
men and women who are of retirement age, of good character
and of minimal means. Residents are looked after by wardens
although no nursing care is provided.
The Trust is the 23rd oldest recorded charity (out of 185,000
charities) and the 10th oldest almshouse foundation in the
country. It remains, however, very much a family charity.
If you would like further information about Donnington Hospital,
please contact the Clerk to the Trustees, The Trust Office,
Groombridge Place, Donnington, Newbury RG14 2JQ (Tel 01635
By Willie Hartley Russell MVO