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St Margaret's Almshouses (formerly Leper Hospital), Taunton  Grade II*

The SBPT's fifth restoration

The SBPT repaired and converted St Margaret's Almshouses in Taunton into four dwellings of social Housing for Falcon Rural Housing who purchased the building upon the completion of the work.  The Trust worked closely with Falcon Rural Housing's Chief Executive, Justin Roxburgh and tenants of Falcon moved into St Margaret's in   November 2002

Work started on the restoration in October 2001.

The SBPT, in association with Falcon Rural Housing, bought St Margaret's from a private developer in 1999 in order to restore and repair it.  The building was founded as a leper hospital in the 12th century.  Leprosy virtually died out and by the 15th century, we believe the building was beyond reasonable repair.  Glastonbury Abbey had acquired the patronage of the hospital in the late 13th century and Abbot Bere rebuilt it as almshouses in the early 16th century.  After the Dissolution the associated chapel was demolished.

From 1612 - 1938 St Margaret's continued as almshouses, cared for by a local parish. In the late 1930s St Margaret's was converted into a hall of offices for the the Rural Community Council along with accommodation for the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen.   They moved elsewhere in the late 1980s and the building then stood empty.  In the early 1990s the thatched roof was destroyed by fire and the building suffered from vandalism and neglect until the Somerset Building Preservation Trust with Falcon Rural Housing purchased it. 

St Margaret's Almshouses are recognised by English Heritage as a building of national importance, resulting in them giving substantial financial support to the restoration, along with Falcon Rural Housing and the Housing Corporation.  Other funding was received from a number of national charitable trusts, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset County Council, the Wyvern Environmental Trust and Viridor Waste Management as well as local donations.   The repair work used, as faithfully as possible, the original architecture and building materials.   Needless to say the project has created four glorious homes in a superbly restored and converted historic building.