Napper's Mite clock

Former almshouses on the E. side of South Street, is of one and two storey's. The walls are of squared and coursed local stone and the roofs are tiled. Directions for founding the charity were made by Sir Robert Napper of Middlemarsh in 1615, who had already provided for the endowment; these were implemented by his son Nathaniel in 1616. The building, originally for ten poor men, consists of four ranges enclosing a small square courtyard with a large room, said by Hutchins to have been the chapel, in the S. range; there are indications that the E. range was the last to be completed. Most of the W. range and whole W. front was rebuilt in 1842; the previous design of the ground-floor front was reproduced, but the upper part is an entire innovation. (Contract for rebuilding W. front, in D.C.R.O.; see also J. Buckler's drawing dated 1828, B.M. Add. MS. 36361.) The ten small single rooms for the almsmen were more or less altered in 1954-5 upon conversion of the premises into shops and offices.
The street front has a moulded string at first-floor level, plain eaves and, in the centre, a gable with bell-turret on the apex. The ground floor contains an open loggia with an arcade of nine bays of three-centred arches above a dwarf wall; the centre and the northernmost arches are continued down to form doorways and over the centre doorway is a tracery panel of 1842 containing two blank shields; the back wall of brick contains four two-light windows. Above, on the first floor, are five two-light windows with stone mullions and, near the centre, a widely projecting stone bracket with battlemented cornice supporting a round clock at right-angles to the wallface. The clock was brought from the old Poor Law Institution, built in 1745 and demolished in 1835. In the gable is a renewed inscription 'Napper's Mite 1616'.


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