New garden marks century of Stuart Court almshouses in Norwich
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
A garden for all seasons has been opened to celebrate the centenary of Stuart Court in Norwich.
The almshouses, in Recorder Road, were built in 1915 in memory of James Stuart, who became managing director of Colman's in 1890.
Mr Stuart, who was married to Laura Colman, was a privy councillor who also served as an MP in London and was a fellow of Trinity College Cambridge. He died at Carrow Abbey in 1913.
Mr Stuart and his wife were philanthropists who were involved in many good works, leading his sisters-in-law Ethel Mary Colman and Helen Mary Colman to found the Stuart Court Memorial Trust in tribute to him after he died.
It was 'dedicated in perpetuity for charitable purposes as alms-houses for the deserving poor', in the words of the original deed of foundation.
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The building was entrusted to the Norwich Housing Society in 1996, and is now used by the charity as housing for the over 60s.
To celebrate the centenary of Stuart Court, a project was launched to improve the garden for residents to enjoy.
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Carol Sangster, of the Norwich Housing Society, explained that the garden was 'very basic' before, with a tired lawn and no wheelchair access. It has been brought up to date with plants to enjoy throughout the year, and a ramp built to allow everyone to use the garden.
The list of those who helped the charity bring the project to life is a long one. It includes, but is not limited to, landscapers at Draper and Nichols, former Easton College student Alex Boon who planted the garden, and sponsors including Nottcuts and Peter Beales Roses.
Bishop of Norwich Graham James blessed the garden yesterday, before Lord Mayor of Norwich Brenda Arthur cut the ribbon to officially open it. She said that the project marked another milestone in the long history of the buildings, and was proud of all the cudtodians of it.
She added that it helped enhance the quality of life of residents of Stuart Court.
'The decision to refurbish the gardens to mark the centenary of these unique properties was taken for a number of reasons,' she said. 'It is a very visibile signal to the wider population that even after 100 years the trustees and staff continue to strive to achieve the best they can for those they serve and those who pass by.'