Changing Lives for 850 years

For 850 years, St John’s Foundation has been changing people’s lives, for good.
As one of the UK’s oldest charities, we are proud to serve Bath and the surrounding area. But we’re still facing many of the same problems today as we have been throughout the centuries.

It’s a dilemma that prompted us to launch our Foundation Fund in 2020. This work focuses on making sure every child under 12 has the chance to grow up as a healthy, happy, and educated member of our community; that they have the support they need to lead fulfilling, independent lives beyond school and into older age. We are determined to narrow the primary school educational attainment gap, which is particularly acute in our area.

Alongside this, we continue our long-standing work providing older people with housing and outreach services. With older adults now outnumbering younger people in our region, it’s more important than ever that we foster an age-friendly community, promoting independent living for longer.

By addressing the needs of under-served young people, we believe we can change the direction of their lives, so that when they’re older, they won’t need us.

Our city and the neighbourhoods around it are beautiful and age-old. However, divisions and inequalities are concealed behind the veneer of Bath stone and rural beauty. We work to address these modern challenges, forging connections with like-minded charities and donors to boost our impact. It’s a long-term strategy, but we’re unwavering. After all, we’ve been around for 850 years.

Timeline of St John’s Foundation


French cleric Bishop Reginald Fitzjocelyn created St John’s Hospital to alleviate poverty and chronic living conditions in Bath.


St Catherine’s Hospital was built as an almshouse. Residents were known as inmates, reflecting the strict way of life.


Henry VIII abolished Catholicism and founded the Church of England. St John’s avoided confiscation of land and wealth by appointing a non-clerical Master.


The Clock Tower in Chapel Court was built. This is one of Bath’s earliest-recorded public clocks and is still in our courtyard today.


John Wood, the celebrated Bath architect, completed his first commission which was for St John’s. John Wood House was built when he was just 23.


Horace Walpole, son of Prime Minister Sir Robert, stayed at Chapel Court. This shows that almshouses had all kinds of uses, including being guest rooms, which funded the inmates’ housing on the lower levels.


St Catherine’s was demolished and rebuilt, as an almshouse.

It now provides luxury holiday apartments run by our trading company.


The 1851 census shows that 228 people lived in the Chapel Court almshouses and the average age was just 31. Residents ranged from paupers to a solicitor’s clerk widow and a birdcage maker.


1 Queen Square was donated to St John’s Hospital. The square was also designed by John Wood and built in 1730.


The Crisis Programme was launched – a fund to support people in crisis living in Bath. Since then, we have supported tens of thousands of local people facing financial difficulties and the programme continues today.


On 4 July, HRH Prince Charles, (now HM The King) opened the newly built 54 apartment almshouse complex at Combe Park.


St John’s commenced an eight-year modernisation project of its city centre almshouses, ensuring they are fit for purpose and future-proofed.

In this year, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall (now HM The Queen) became our Patron.


Community Outreach Service launched to help older adults in Bath avoid isolation and loneliness.


St John’s Hospital changed its name to St John’s Foundation to help clarify its charitable purpose.


The Foundation Fund was launched. The Fund is specifically focused on closing the primary age educational attainment gap; providing all children the opportunity to grow into healthy, happy, and educated members of society.


Renovations on 1 Queen Square were completed and it was returned to its former glory. Now an integral part of our trading company, it operates as a luxury workspace – the House of St John’s – and actively supports our work in the community.


St John’s Foundation marks its 850th anniversary with a special event at Bath Abbey and a year of celebration.

We work with…

Young people

St John’s vision is for all children in our community to grow up into happy, healthy, and educated members of society. By focusing on closing the Key Stage 2 educational attainment gap, we provide crucial support through targeted interventions to help make this happen.

Our interventions focus on key areas of a child’s development. These include a child’s language development in nursery, mental health support for children and mothers, and further educational support at primary school. St John’s also provides nourishing meals through the Nutritious Food Programme to help families facing financial challenges.

Older people 65+

St John’s has created a thriving almshouse community to help older adults live well and more independently. In addition to providing shelter, we offer a diverse activities programme and a tailored advice service to support all mature adults in our community.

It is important to us that we offer an environment that enhances the overall quality of people’s lives. We are proud to support older adults whilst promoting individuality, friendship, and wellbeing within a safe and friendly community of mature adults.

Offering a ray of hope to older people

One of the most significant advantages of living in an almshouse is the sense of community. At St John’s, we have created a close-knit community of like-minded individuals with similar life experiences. Loneliness and social isolation are two of the most common issues faced by this age group. Being part of an environment like ours can boost people’s sense of belonging and purpose, while reducing feelings of isolation.

Before I came to St John’s I lived in a horrible, cold flat. There were drug users and dealers outside my front door daily. Police raids had become a regular occurrence. My family and friends were so worried for my safety. I suffered from depression, and I was always worried about my security. I always double bolted my doors. I was there for 11 years until someone recommended St John’s to me. The rest is history. I am so happy here. I feel the warmth, security, companionship, the respect and compassion of the staff. I have made friends, and we all look out for each other. I can get involved with the activities that interest me and I am always treated with respect and feel valued. I am so happy here, having been depressed before. I know I am warm and safe here.

St John’s almshouse resident

Offering a ray of hope to young people

We work closely with local schools to ensure the most effective interventions and tools are available to children. By supporting childcare and educational settings as well as families, we believe every child can leave primary school with the appropriate reading, writing, and numeracy skills.

My son is a bundle of creativity and joy, always excited about school. He doesn’t have any specific dislikes in school and loves playtime with his friends and learning new things. He loves art and is incredibly crafty and creative. However, when he started school, we noticed some real difficulties he was having, particularly in language-based lessons and specifically around his reading.

Despite his positive attitude towards school, he really struggled with his speech and language. His speech was delayed, and reading was a real challenge for him. As a parent, it was horrible to see him frustrated and struggling when attempting to read.

The speech and language therapist that St John’s gave him has been incredible. It’s boosted his confidence so much and she’s been so patient with him. His phonics and pronunciation have improved significantly. His progress from last year is nothing short of remarkable. The time spent with the speech therapist has made an unbelievable difference.

I can’t express enough how happy I am with the change I see in him and the difference in his development.


At St John’s, we believe in courage, kindness, and the collective power of working together as a community. If you would like to be involved and become a partner of St John’s, please contact us at

Your involvement takes us one step closer to creating a positive change in the lives of those who need it most.

Your donation contributes to educational, nutritional, emotional and behavioural support for under-served children in our community. This helps us give children the chance to thrive, so they can become healthier adults with brighter futures.

Your support helps our work with older adults in reducing social isolation, improving wellbeing and quality of life, and creating an environment where they feel empowered.

Thank you for providing a ray of hope.

Make a donation