These almshouses are a 440-year-old part of Watford history but they could easily have been lost had it not been for an appeal set up by a councillor.

The Watford Observer has again teamed up with the Watford Museum and is delighted to showcase some pictures from its archive.

This week's image is of the almshouses, opposite St Mary's Church, that many people know by a single name but they are more properly called the Bedford & Essex Almshouses.

The museum's volunteer archivist Christine Orchard explained: "The Essex part of the name comes about because The Earl of Essex paid an annual sum towards their upkeep and they were known as the Essex Almshouses.

Read more: A dramatic picture of a taxicab almost sliced in half by a tree a century ago

"The Almshouses were built in 1580 by Francis, 2nd Earl of Bedford and his wife, Lady Bridget as homes for eight poor women from Watford, Chenies and Langley.

"In 1930 they were almost demolished for a car park but an appeal was set up by Councillor Bickerton to ensure their survival and refurbishment. In 1952 they were nationally listed - Grade II.

"An exact date for the photograph is not known but is likely to be the early 1900s."

Watford Museum is currently closed under lockdown restrictions but you can still pay it a virtual visit at or find the museum on Facebook and Instagram @watfordmuseum