History of the Thomas Christie Almshouse Charity

Thomas Christie was a seventeenth century Bedford lawyer. He wasn’t especially wealthy, but he cared about the needs of his community and used his money to provide enduring benefits for Bedford.

His biggest act of generosity came in 1682 when he built eight small almshouses in St Loyes, in the centre of Bedford.  When he died in 1697, his will enabled needy people (often widows) to continue living in the little homes he had built.

In the 1960s, Bedford was being redeveloped and while these eight homes were no longer suitable for life in a modern world, their location in the centre of Bedford and long back gardens meant they were valuable properties.

The charity sold these homes, bought land along the Embankment and between 1964 and 1968 built the semi-circular Queen Anne-style building with 16 flats that we still have today. Built on the remaining mound of Bedford’s eleventh century castle, it has lovely views of the River Great Ouse.  Residents enjoy a prime location with easy access to the town centre.

Thomas Christie Charity has close links to the Parish Church of St Paul’s in the centre of Bedford and the Vicar is a trustee.  Occasional services are held at the almshouses and some residents are regular members of the congregation.  Each year St Paul’s holds a special service of commemoration for the charity founders and we host a lunch afterwards for residents, trustees, staff and guests.