Until the arrival in recent years of extensive new housing developments, Annahilt was a small hamlet at a crossroads between Hillsborough and Ballynahinch.
In his will dated May 1833, one Robert Sharland left the balance of his estate, after giving £25 to his sister Sarah and five guineas to be distributed amongst his servants, for the erection of ‘ten Almshouses for ten old men and ten old women, all belonging to the Parish of Annahilt’. Each beneficiary was to receive £5 per annum, and the Almshouses were to include a house for ‘a housekeeper to inspect the houses and keep them clean’.
Sharland actually died during 1833, and it appears that the Almshouses were built shortly after that, in two stages (evidence of an old external wall was uncovered in the roofspace of no.191 during restoration). The portion closest to the crossroads was built first, including a larger central block that may have been intended for the housekeeper, and when nos. 191-197 were added, the resulting nine houses became a symmetrical design. Over the years the original fund had dwindled, and the Sharland Charity was wound up, permitting Hearth to purchase and restore the building.
The original Almshouses were tiny, and the renovation of the property involved combining three units into one throughout. The building was re-slated, chimneys rebuilt, and old cast-iron lattice windows restored. Many of the old internal sheeted doors were re-used, although the houses are otherwise modern inside. An utterly unassuming building, this looks more like a farmhouse than an Almshouse, but it is a delightful element in the countryside.