Eleanor Palmer was a wealthy Elizabethan lady. Eleanor was born Eleanor Cheeseman and her father was an important man at Court being ‘coferer’ (treasurer) to King Henry VII and then to Henry V111. It is assumed that she was born in the 1480’s. She was originally married to a London gentleman, Edward Taylor, who died in 1509 and she had three children by him.
Eleanor married again, John Palmer, and had five more children. John died in 1542 and she lived for another 16 years. Eleanor died on 29 February 1558 and the ‘Eleanor Palmer Trust’ charity was founded. She is buried in Barnet Parish Church and a plaque is located on the north wall in her memory.
Eleanor left Fortess Fields in Kentish Town to establish her charity to help the poor of Chipping Barnet and St Pancras. The land is administered by a separate Charity called ‘The Estate Charity of Eleanor Palmer’.
In 1823 the Trustees of Eleanor Palmer Trust built six red brick bungalows on Barnet Common, now known as Wood Street. In 1930 the bungalows were rebuilt and the design was altered and two additional semi-detached bungalows were built on Blenheim Road (at the side of Wood Street). A further property was later added, 1 Eleanor Palmer Cottages, Blenheim Road.
Land was obtained from the Chesterfield Road United Reform Church and in 1981, twenty one new housing units plus a warden property were built. Two blocks were erected named Eleanor Gardens, Palmer Gardens and 87 Chesterfield Road. In 2016 the ex-warden property was spilt into two additional units
In 1982 part of the land was sold and the Eleanor Palmer Trust received two-thirds share of the capital, which is invested to provide income and aid future growth. The remaining land has recently been sold and invested. A share of the income is received by the Trust.
In 1990 land that had been obtained from St Stephen’s Church on Spring Close, Barnet. A thirty two bed residential care home and a twenty four, one bed and two, two bed sheltered housing flats and staff accommodation were built.
Samuel Byford died in 1898. Samuel’s wife name was not Rebecca so it is thought that he wished the charity he founded, to bear the names of his father and mother.
Samuel owned various properties. Whilst he had no children of his own, in his will he left a ‘life interest’ in six cottages called Albion Place in Bells Hill (now known as flats 1-8 Byford House) to his sister, Mrs Lydia Duncan. The ‘life interest’ was passed on to her daughter, Isabel Mary, who died in the early 1970’s.
He owned a butchers shop at 89 High Street, originally known as ‘Essex House’.
The use of 89 has changed many times over the years:
When the ‘life interests’ expired it was Samuel’s instructions that the Bells Hill cottages should become Almshouses, endowed by the more valuable property in the High Street. They were to be occupied by “respectable married couples, one of whom must have reached the age of 65”.
Further properties were added to the Bells Hill cottages, then a few years later four bungalows were built at the back of the site with a guest room attached to number 19.
There are 18 units in total at this site. There is no number 13.
64 Bells Hill was purchased separately to be used as a house for the Warden. In 1993 this building was converted into a community room, guest room, office and laundry room.
19 Byford House and the guest room were converted into a two bedroomed warden property and used until the warden service was updated in 2011 and the warden no longer lived on site. 19 Byford House was then reverted back to an Almshouse.
In 1999 the Samuel and Rebecca Byford Charity was merged with the Eleanor Palmer Trust as they were administered by the same Board of Trustees.
The property at 89 High Street is currently leased to The Burrito Shack and has a separate leased flat above.