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The Charity of Mrs Mabel Luke

The Charity is run by a Board of  volunteer Trustees with the aim of providing low-cost housing for local people in need. The housing that is provided is what is known as an Almshouse and the following explains what this means:

Almshouses have existed for a thousand years and now there are over 1,500 almshouse charities with over 2,500 groups of almshouses in England. Their main purpose is to provide low-cost housing for local people in need.

In 1928, Mrs Mabel Luke, a resident of Newbury, purchased land off Mill Lane in what was then Greenham parish. Having built four 3- bedroom houses she conveyed all the land to Trustees for charitable purposes. The original Trust Deed required that the land was to provide homes for 'deserving persons, of the working classes, who had been residents of the Parish of Greenham or Town of Newbury for at least a year' with priority being given to families with young children.

The founding Deed was replaced by a Declaration of Trust in 1948 and then by a Charity Commission Scheme in 1982. This created the Charity of Mrs Mabel Luke as now exists (No.236518) with the residences to be 'for persons in need, hardship and distress', resident in the town of Newbury or the parish of Greenham and 'said buildings shall be appropriated and used as almshouses'.

All almshouse charities are governed by voluntary Trustees wishing to help their community in accordance with the wishes of the original benefactors.

Pictured is one of the four original houses built in 1928 on the plot in Mill Lane. The plaque commemorating the Charity's benefactor, Mrs Mabel Luke, which is visible in the left of the photograph, now stands on its own plinth in the entrance to Mabel Luke Place.

An original 1928 house
SIde view of Mabel Luke Place

The re-development (shown left) of Mabel Luke Place in Mill Lane, Newbury was completed in May 2018 and provides 16 modern, light, airy and energy-efficient (rated as “B”) flats in central Newbury. They are occupied by families, couples and single people with a good connection to Newbury town or the neighbouring parish of Greenham. Most of the two-bedroom flats are occupied by families with one or two small children. The flats are located close to Newbury town centre with schools, nurseries, Victoria Park and the bus and railway stations within easy walking distance. The Charity received substantial grants from central and local government, as well as from local charities, to help fund the re-development of Mabel Luke Place. The rest of the cost is funded by a mortgage from the Charity Bank, repayable over 25 years. As is normal where public funds are received, residents in most of the flats were originally, and continue to be, nominees from the housing waiting list run by West Berkshire Council. The Charity is free to choose residents for the remaining flats, though in practice we may ourselves take households on the waiting list as we work closely with the Council. We routinely advise households considering making an application to the Charity to register on the WBC housing waiting list.

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