The almshouses today are a square of Georgian houses dating from the 1790s which replaced the original Tudor buildings from the time of Hawkins. An extension was added in 1824 and further alterations were made at the turn of the 20th century and again in the 1950s. In 1982 an appeal was launched which paid for the hospital to be completely renovated and divided into 8 flats which were re-opened in 1984 by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. In 1994 the hospital was visited by HM, Queen Elizabeth II to mark its 400th anniversary.
The flat were extensively modernised. in 2007 and now comprise four ground floor 1-bedroom flats and two spacious first floor 2-bedroom flats surrounding the courtyard, with a further two 1-bedroom flats in the rear extension overlooking the garden.
Following the closure of Chatham dockyard in 1984 the Governing Instrument was amended and since then the hospital has been open to men and women of all three services; dockyard workers and certain categories of mariners: the selection criterion is solely one of need.
See further details below and in the 'Governors' section
The main board delegates finance; welfare and admissions and premises, to two sub-committees. Meetings are supported by a clerk/administrator who also acts as the point of contact for the residents and deals with day-to-day correspondence and financial matters. There is also a gardener/handyman who is responsible for minor maintenance, access to the almshouses and control of workmen on site. Both work part-time and are not routinely accessible at the hospital, but can be contacted by telephone or email in case of emergency.
There is no resident warden, caretaker or medical care and residents must be able to live independently. Applicants for accommodation at the hospital should download the application form and submit it, once completed, by post to the clerk/administrator. Once their eligibility has been checked, an interview with a panel of governors will be arranged to assess the applicant’s suitability. The grounds for assessment are set out in the guidance notes relating to the application form. On appointment, a resident will be given a handbook that sets out the running of the hospital in detail.
The hospital comprises 8 flats which are unfurnished; albeit, they do have fully-equipped kitchens and shower rooms. Anybody offered accommodation in one of the flats is appointed as a resident, they do not become a tenant. Similarly, they pay a weekly maintenance contribution (WMC) monthly by standing order towards the cost of running the almshouse, they do not pay rent.
The WMC is calculated on the basis of a fair rent assessed by the government’s Valuation Office which is then subsidised by the charity in accordance with residents’ individual needs. WMC covers some service charges, but residents remain responsible for their electricity and gas usage and council tax.
In essence, residents occupy the almshouses as private individuals and the charity works in the background to provide them with as good a standard of accommodation as is possible within its means.