The Jesus Hospital Charity was established in 1679 by James Ravenscroft, and his wife Mary, who drew up an agreement to ensure the support and maintenance of six lady residents, known as Sisters, residing in Ravenscroft Cottages in Wood Street, Barnet.
Condition of entry very much reflected the traditions and belief systems of England in the seventeenth century; entry was restricted to ladies of holy report and innocent conversation. They would not be admitted if they were “suspected of Sorcery or Witchcraft or Charming. Or if Common Drunkard, Common Scold or Backbiter. Nor idiot or lunatic or infected with any foul or loathsome disease!”
Over the years, Jesus Hospital Charity acquired more Almshouses in the area and the Ravenscrofts also ensured the rent from land they owned in Bethnal Green, was used to pay for the upkeep of the original almshouses in Wood Street.
The Charity is run in accordance with a scheme prepared by the Charity Commission and is administered by 12 voluntary Trustees (Visitors). Day to day administration is carried out by the Charity’s Clerk and an Administration Officer, a Finance Officer and a Visiting Officer.
James and Mary have a chapel, dedicated to their memory in the Chipping Barnet Parish Church.
Due to the kindness and benevolence of James and Mary, a number of local features are named after them, including a Park, Gardens and a School.
The Charity has experienced a full and colourful history and this has been captured in a book, The Story of Jesus Hospital Charity in Chipping Barnet.
This was written by former Clerk, Laurie Adams, who was a leading authority on Chipping Barnet. The book is on sale at the Barnet Museum in Wood Street and is also available from Amazon.