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136: West Street
The Westgate Almshouses

This was probably the location of the Westgate Almshouses. These were described as outside the Westgate (which stood directly in front of the east end of this plot) and on the opposite side corner of Moat Lane to the Bell Inn. As this plot seems to have been hard onto the Westgate, it might be possible that they were built over land reclaimed from the old town ditch. Otherwise it would be strange that the houses to be outside the gate yet within the ditch, supposedly marked out by Moat Lane.

The Almshouses were first mentioned in 1455. In 1546 these were assisted by a generous endowment in a legacy from John Bentley, a shoemaker. Another legacy came in 1555 from Elizabeth Prowse. The alsmhouses were apparently four small seperate houses and a bellcot. They were demolished during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the 1640s. This was to provide a clear line of fire for the Royalist town defences centred on the old Westgate. They were not rebuilt after the wars and the plot was soon occupied by a private home.

Sources
Jack and Chris Lawrence, A History of Bridgwater, (Chichester: Philimore, 2005)
Bob Dunning, The Victoria County History of the County of Somerset, Volume 6 (Oxford, 1992)
David Sivier, Bridgwater: Personality, Place and the Built Environment, (BAR, Oxford, 2014)

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