The history of the Guildhall Feoffment Trust dates back to 1481 when a will bequest was made by Jankyn Smyth to provide funds, thus supporting the citizens of the town who were expected to pay a large sum of money to each new Abbot of Bury St Edmunds on his election.

“A common profit and benefit of the inhabitants of Bury St Edmunds”

Later benefactors enlarged the endowment to enable the Feoffment to meet other needs of the town. Some of these endowments were specific and others were for general purposes which were covered by the phrase “a common profit and benefit of the inhabitants of Bury St Edmunds”.

Following the dissolution of the Abbey in the 16th century the Feoffees took the administration of the town into their own hands and some of them were involved in obtaining the towns charter of incorporation in 1606. They provided money towards the cost of incorporation on the grounds that in time to come it would be of benefit to the town as a whole.

Before the end of the 16th century the Feoffees appointed a town surgeon who cared for the sick who were unable to afford medical care and continued to do so until the West Suffolk Hospital was established. They cared for orphans and helped young people to obtain apprenticeships, as well as providing for the poor and elderly.

In recent years grants have been made to assist with the provision of holidays for the physically disabled and to assist gifted young people who lack the necessary means to develop their potential. Grants are also made from time to time to the Guildhall Feoffment School for special purposes.

Currently, the main objective of the Guildhall Feoffment is the administration of almshouses. They acquired their first almshouses in the 16th century, some of which were of medieval foundation. The present almshouses in College Square, Northgate Street, Southgate Street, St. Andrews Street and at Hengrave provide homes for up to 40 elderly people.

The almshouses are professionally managed with 24 hour emergency alarm cover and the Feoffees are continually seeking to improve the accommodation and services available to the residents.