Everyone who has the slightest interest in the history of
aware of the Sir William Turner Almshouses, Kirkleatham. But who exactly was
this most generous of men? Cleveland
William was born in Guisborough, a little to the south of Kirkleatham, in 1615, to an already well-to-do family. In the early 1620s, his father bought the Kirkleatham estate and began developing the site as the family home. But William was more than capable of making pots of money of his own, proving this following his move to
as a young
man where he excelled in the fabrics wholesaling business. London
After a long and successful career, during which time he amassed a huge fortune, he was knighted by King Charles II in recognition of his public works – and even found himself serving as Lord Mayor of London in the late 1660s, shortly after the infamous fire, during which time he worked closely with the likes of Christopher Wren in the rebuilding of the capital.
In the mid-1670s, Sir William, perhaps mindful that he had never married nor had children, surrendered most of his wealth to build the now famous almshouses in Kirkleatham – an institution founded in 1676 as the
. He determined that the hospital be
established for the care of 40 people: ten old men, ten old women, ten boys and
ten girls. Sir William Turner Hospital
After his death in 1692 aged 77, control of the almshouses passed first to his nephew, then his great-nephew, Cholmley Turner. The great man’s will also made provision for the founding of a Free School in the village – a task completed by Cholmley in 1709, and which survives today as Kirkleatham Old Hall Museum.
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