Welcome to Abbotts Ladies Home

A registered charity in England and Wales (no 1054844)

About Us

A little about us

Just a short distance from Halifax, West Yorkshire’s busy town centre sits an idyillic oasis steeped in history. John Abbotts Ladies Home, the complex of Grade II listed buildings set around landscaped gardens at Skircoat Green Road is part of the Almshouses Association. There are 14 properties in all and work will commence soon to increase that to 15.

There is a real sense of communitity at John Abbotts homes and residents settle in quickly and make friends. Living in a secluded oasis such as this one takes away some of the stresses of modern living and can also help with factors such as loneliness.

To be eligible to live at John Abbotts home, ladies must already be living in the former county Borough of Halifax or in an area of the ancient Parish of Halifax. There is no rent paid as such but a monthly contribution towards maintaining, repairing and operating the site is required. Ladies are responsible for the interior of their houses and a small area of garden around it.

History

A little about our history

It was a delightful paradox for his friends when the name of John Abbot, a severe Halifax bachelor known for his dislike of women, was perpetuated in a private trust establishing a home for “ladies by birth and education”. Abbott died well over a century ago and, despite the amusement invoked at the time John Abbott’s Trustees Ladies’ Home has been a real benefit to dozens of elderly women. The trust was financed from Abbott’s £60,000 estate. Mainly property in New Zealand and Australia. The home consists of two detached bungalows and ten semi-detached house lying in the tranquillity of neat shrubberies and lawns at Skircoat Green. The trust also pays annuities to a number of woman living in their own homes.

In January, 1877, the first occupants moved into 12 houses at Skircoat Green purchased with a porter’s ledge for £17,879. The homes were designed for women who had retained a modest source of income and most of them were able to afford a maid. The three principal qualifications of residence still apply. These are that a “lady” occupier must be a spinster or widow; she must be over 50; and she must be a lady by birth and education. For women in their own homes receiving support from the trust only first stipulation applies. The religion of the applicants is not considered and preference is given to women who were born or who are living in the parish of Halifax or who have spent five years there.

John Abbott

JAJohn Abbott who was 73 when he died in retirement was and enigmatic figure in 19th century Halifax society. He never married and had no relatives living in town. He grew up in the wool trade during the 1830s and the 1840s when family firms, whose names are now household words – Foster, Holden, Salt, Crossley – Were carving their empires. Abbott went into carpet manufacturing and Ling Roth, in “The Genesis of banking in Halifax”, describes him as a man “carful of his means and wealthy”. Among Abbott’s early business transactions were deals with the first John Crossley, founder of Dean Clough Mills. Later Abbott was to name Crossley’s eldest son Louis-John, as one of his executors and trustees.

In 1829 Abbott formed the Halifax Joint Stock Banking Company and was one of the original 12-member commit management. He was chairman of the board for many years. In 1830, John Crossley took over the only other carpet manufacturer in Halifax, a firm called Abbott and Ellerton. It seems a fair assumption this was John Abbott’s Concern. Abbott enjoyed a cordial relationship with the Crossleys and had a reputation for being a man of culture and reading. He travelled to Australia and the United States, no mean achievement in those days. It seems his wealth from property bought by his textile profits and banking income allowed him to retire comfortably and when he died he had not been in business form some years according to contemporary reports. Between foreign trips he played a significant role in Halifax life. A great churchgoer. He attended Halifax Parish Church regularly for 40 Years and was associated with the Sunday school. He lectured at meetings of the Literary and Philosophical Society and the Bible Society. His years on the Bench as a magistrate could not have failed to move him. Each day there paraded before Abbott a pitiful cross-section if broken men and women. In his will, he specified that his money, a fortune in those days, was to be employed for charitable purposes. It was a source of entertainment to those who were familiar with Abbott when the executors decided to provide a home for “ladies of gentlefolk” who had been widowed or suffered from business misadventures. Abbott himself, if not a misogynist “had no great love for women” as one of the present executors puts it.

William Swinden Barber

800px-DW_Wynfield_WILLIAM_SWINDEN_BARBERWilliam Swinden Barber (FRIBA)  was an English Gothic Revival and Arts and Crafts architect, specialising in modest but finely furnished Anglican churches. The Barber churches often had crenellated bell-towers. He was based in Brighouse and Halifax in the West Riding of Yorkshire. At least 15 surviving examples of his work are Grade II listed buildings including his 1875 design for the Victoria Cross at Akroydon. To the left a 1864 portrait by David Wilkie Wynfield depicts him in Romantic garb, holding a flower. He served in the Artists Rifles regiment in the 1860s alongside Wynfield and other contemporary artists.

In enactment of the Will of woolstapler John Abbott (1796–1870), the twelve almshouses at our home were built with a porter’s lodge and walls and gates, all designed by Barber in 1876 at a total land-purchase and building cost of £17,880. The project was opened in January 1777. It has three tall gate piers, two pairs of gates, stone walls and ornate iron railings. The lodge is in the same style as the homes, being built of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings, and with gables and mullioned windows. The homes have tall chimney stacks and slate roofs with ashlar coped gables and finials.

Vacancies

From time to time we have a vacancy for a Trustee/Governor. Anyone who may be interested please contact us using the form below.

There are no current  home vacancies. Please contact us to register interest should a home become available.

Contact us

Design and photography by Jonathan Lees / The Crossley Heath School.