A CHARITABLE tradition dating back 400 years was celebrated in Dorchester.

In one of her final acts as mayor Stella Jones hosted a reception at the Corn Exchange to mark 400 years of almshouses in the county town.

As well as celebrating the history of almshouses in the town, the event was also used to raise awareness for a £50,000 project to improve the garden of three-warden controlled properties run by Dorchester Municipal Charities as it continues the tradition.

Residents of the almshouses in Dorchester that are still going today were the guests of honour on the night.

Cllr Jones said: “It was very pleasant, we had lots of residents come and they really enjoyed themselves and I think they did quite well in collecting money towards the gardens.”

The first almshouses were set up in Dorchester in the wake of a great fire in 1613 that consumed a vast section of the town.

The principle is still going strong today through the work of the Dorchester Municipal Charities and Cllr Jones said it was important to celebrate a significant part of the town’s history.

She said: “Celebrating 400 years is quite amazing.”

Planning permission has been secured for the landscaping project at the Nappers, Whetstones and Chubbs properties run by the Dorchester Municipal Charities and the scheme will make them more accessible to residents and improve their lives.

Dorchester Municipal Charities trustee Wendy Hilton gave a talk on the project at the celebration event.

A model of the proposed scheme was also developed by youngsters at Kingston Maurward College.

Cllr Jones said: “It was nice to involve the young people with the old, it made for a nice celebration.”

As well as the outgoing mayor, the event was also attended by new Dorchester Mayor Peter Mann – who is chair of the trustees of the Dorchester Municipal Charities.

Also present on the night was Dorset High Sheriff Jane Stichbury and representatives of various groups in the town.