Who was Robert Hudson?

Robert Hudson was born to Thomas Hudson in Melton on January 1st, 1564. He made his money in London as a haberdasher selling ribbons, beads, purses, gloves, pins, caps, ruffs and cod-pieces to the Tudor and Stuart popinjays in the City. He bought the right to the Great Tithes of Melton and built a new house where Market Place joins Sherrard Street. The house was called The Limes and was on the site of Superdrug and Yorkshire Trading, formerly Woolworths, who had bought and demolished it to build their shop in the 1920s. He also built at a cost of £200 the Maison de Dieu in 1640, but the locals not knowing French called it the Bedehouse, and it still serves its purpose in Burton Street. He died the following year and set up a charity in his will to run it, with a fixed income of £23 a year. He also  provided a shilling a week for a dole of bread for the poor, and the side doorway at The Limes through which this was first distributed was saved from Woolworths’ bulldozers, and re-erected in the railings of Egerton lodge opposite the bottom of Leicester Street so that careless drivers could use it for target practice. Later the bread was given out in the parish robert hudson's bread tablechurch over a table which survives, unlike a pulpit that he gave, along with £1 a year for the Vicar to preach a sermon from it on Plough Tuesday, 2/6d for the Clerk to listen to it, and £1 for a “refreshing” (an enormous amount of cake and coffee) for anyone else who turned up. Nobody, even the Vicar, has turned up in living memory.

The Maison de Dieu was originally for six poor men, each of whom has a parlour downstairs and a chamber upstairs, three at each end sharing a corridor, spiral staircase and landing, meeting in the middle with a common hall downstairs and a common solar upstairs. The hall was surfaced in small black and white pebbles to a fancy design. This layout survived until the 1980s by which time there were twelve inmates with only one room each. It was then converted to four flats, with not as much regard to conservation as we have now.

hudson's arms in a window in the churchRobert's son, Henry Hudson was made a baronet in 1660, having backed the right side in the Civil War. There was succession of seven Hudson Baronets of Melton Mowbray, but the line died out in 1781, by which time they had forsaken Melton for Poplar.

In 1887 Hudson’s Charity raised £800 to build a second range of almshouses behind the Bedehouse, but it was blocked by the Charity Commission for lack of endowment to support the inmates. It was spent instead on major improvements to the Bedehouse when most of the dormer windows were added. In the nineteenth century several other people founded small charities to provide coal and suchlike for the almshouse residents, but their endowments were all in Government Stocks and were whittled away to peanuts by inflation in the two World Wars.

Recently a further large endowment presented a range of Harry Beeby's former hunting stables to Hudson’s Charity and most of the money needed to convert them to the four new almshouses adjoining the old, thus a long-held dream has been fulfilled.

Who was Henry Storer?

Henry Storer was assistant curate at Melton from 1681 to 1692, when he became Vicar of Frisby which he remained until he died in 1722. The property he left to his charity was then producing £27 a year but has grown since. We don't know where he came from or how he came by his riches. In 1827 his trustees built a set of almshouses, for £615 to a pared-down specification at the corner of Rutland Street, where Morrison's side carpark now sits. They were made a listed building in the 1950s, and re-roofed, but all concerned agreed that they nevertheless were likely to fall down, so the Urban District Council bought and cleared them for as slums in 1965. That was an era of plentiful council housing and not much interest in heritage.

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