Barnstaple Municipal Charities celebrates 390 years this year, and is looking to further cement links with the town

Penrose Almshouses in Litchdon Street.Penrose Almshouses in Litchdon Street.

One of Barnstaple's oldest charities is looking to ensure the town can make the most of its rich history.

Barnstaple Municipal Charities turns 390 years old this year, making it one of the oldest in the area.

The charity provides homes in Barnstaple, and has 28 Almshouses across two sites in the town - Horwood Paiges in Church Laine, and Penrose in Litchdon Street.

As well as providing housing for those in need in the town, the charity also has a grant fund for those with general financial needs or for support in education or apprenticeships.

Penrose Almshouses in Litchdon Street.Penrose Almshouses in Litchdon Street.

Charity co-ordinator Joanna Northridge said she is keen to increase the interaction the charity has with the local community so they can make the most of resources.

She said: "The charity has a new website and we would like to create more interaction in Barnstaple and with people who may have lived in the almshouses in the past or any information on people who have lived in them.

"We are one of the oldest charities and few people have heard of us, which means people don't know how to benefit from our houses or trust fund.

"So we have a devoted website and Facebook group where we hope people will be able to post their pictures and family stories.

Charity co-ordinator Joanna Northridge (centre) with residents Brenda Appleby and Helga Regan.Charity co-ordinator Joanna Northridge (centre) with residents Brenda Appleby and Helga Regan.

"The hope is that more people can access resources and funds that are available and were historically made available 390 years ago."

Mrs Northridge said the charities also welcome visitors to the Almshouses.

Two important parts of the Penrose houses' history are currently on display at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon as part of the Hatched, Matched and Despatched exhibition.

The original key to the Almshouse's chapel is currently on display, as well as a ring block.

There are 16 houses and four flats at Penrose Almshouses, each with their own allotment. Refurbishment is scheduled for the flats over the next two years.

In recent years, the Grade 1 listed building has undergone conservation and restoration work, including to its striking colonnade.

For more information about the Almshouses, or Barnstaple Municipal Charities, visit http://www.barnstaplealmshouses.co.uk/