Waddington Hospital is a group of 24 independent dwellings in the village of Waddington about two miles from Clitheroe. The name ‘Hospital’ may seem unusual for what is better known today as ‘Almshouses’ but originally a Hospital was where hospitality was provided and the Trustees of Waddington Hospital like to feel that the spirit of the old meaning of the word is still preserved.
It was originally built in the 17th Century during the Stuart Restoration by Robert Parker of Carlton and Marley whose family had been landowners in Yorkshire and Lancashire from the time of Henry VI. Its purpose then was to provide homes for the widows of dalesmen and farmers in the surrounding parishes of Mitton, Grindleton, Waddington, Bolton-by-Bowland, Slaidburn, Gisburn, Whitewell and Tosside. The Trustees now welcome applications from ladies from a much wider area though priority is given to these parishes or with a relative living nearby. So for more than three centuries it has continued to provide ladies in their retirement years, as the Founder intended.
Robert Parker, the founder, was born on June 13th, 1633, the second son of Edward Parker of Browsholme. His uncles, Samuel and Peter Sunderland (his mother’s brothers), were both great benefactors to Yorkshire schools and churches and, in founding this Hospital, Robert Parker carried on the family tradition. He was a Barrister-at-Law and died on 21st March, 1719. His tomb is in Waddington Church. The Parker family through the years has continued to take the closest interest in the Hospital and the head of the family is hereditary Chairman of the Trustees of the Hospital.
Although the Almshouses had then been some years in existence, it was not until September 24th, 1701 that the first Trustees were appointed. Robert Parker endowed the Hospital with lands at Waddington, Carlton, Keighley and Manningham and in his Will he left land in Hellifield and Long Preston to the intent that the Trustees should each year, on the 13th of June , provide a Clerk in Holy Orders of the Church of England to preach a sermon at Waddington Church – the Trustees and the women of the Almshouses being present. This intent is still faithfully fulfilled each year. The Trustees meet four times a year to transact the Almshouse business and approve new residents when there are vacancies. In this they are helped by the Clerk to the Trustees, supported by professional advisers; the Reader, who is usually – but not necessarily- a retired parson, and the Warden.
Originally, Robert Parker built the Hospital to house ten widows, but in the 19th Century the Hospital buildings were entirely re-constructed to provide separate cottages for 29 widows with a house for the Warden, a Chapel and offices. Between 1986 and 1990 the entire Hospital was modernised and extended to provide 24 dwellings together with a Communal Room and Warden’s house. The cottages continue to be modernised and updated to provide a compact and comfortable home for ladies for as long as they can look after themselves with a little help from neighbours and the Warden. Surrounded by their own furniture and belongings, the Trustees hope that the ladies can live out a peaceful and happy old age.