De Vos Almshouse by Karla Mae

In a recent post about my children’s ancestors, De Vos family, I mentioned that it was believed that the De Vos family had built an Almshouse in Belgium.  I didn’t actually know what an Almshouse was so I set about finding out.  I love how we wade through old documents to find the information we need but I have to say how wonderful it is to sometimes have the Internet agt our fingertips.

Above is the De Vos Almshouse.  It was built in 1713.  According to my information, Olivier de Vos had already left for Ceylon by then so I wonder how much he had to do with the building of the Almshouse in Belgium.  Certainly it would seem he was making a lot of money in Ceylon so could afford it but it may have been one of his siblings.

I had expected to find out that an Almshouse was some kind of stately home and I was half right.   From the Middle Ages the wealthy citizens built Almshouses as free housing for widows, the poor and the elderly.  In exchange for free rent, the residents had to pray every day for their benefactor’s soul to be admitted into heaven when he or she passed away.  This was a daily duty and to ensure they didn’t forget, a chapel was always built in the courtyard of the property.  De Vos had eight homes originally but in recent times were converted into six.

Today, Almshouses are owned by the city and run by Social Services.  To live in one, you must be either old or poor and have been a citizen of Bruges for at least two years.

De Vos houses (2 of 6)

Two of the six De Vos houses still available

(Photos and some of my information was taken from the blog