The Mary Parminter Charity was started by Jane and Mary Parminter then living at A La Ronde, Exmouth (now owned by the National Trust). In 1811 they completed a building on part of their estate situated in Summer Lane, Exmouth, consisting of a Chapel, School and four Almshouses, in a 3-acre field overlooking the Exe estuary. Unfortunately, Jane died shortly afterwards, but Mary went on to establish the trust bearing her name in 1813.
There was originally one building containing the Chapel, a Schoolroom and four tiny almshouses for “poor spinsters of not less than 50 years and of good character and possessed of some independent means”, one of whom was appointed to act as schoolmistress for six local poor girls who would otherwise not have received any education. Provision was also made for the appointment and payment of a Chaplain to care for the residents and lead worship at the Chapel.
The school was closed in 1911 following the various provisions of the Education Acts passed at that time which laid down minimum standards for primary and secondary education. The almshouses continued to house women in need, but by the 1960s it was realised that the tiny bed-sits around the chapel did not provide adequate accommodation according to modern housing standards. It was decided to build a block of three new cottages and these were completed in 1969, followed by a second group of two cottages in 1978, one of which would be suitable for a married couple.
The original cottages around the chapel building were adapted to provide a kitchen and meeting rooms for the church congregation, with two of the rooms knocked into one to provide improved accommodation for one resident.
The Trust therefore still operates as an Almshouses Charity and is affiliated to the Almshouses Association. It is registered with the Charity Commission as a Charity : no 210057.