A Short History of Charles May House

Charles May House, formerly St. Mary’s Cottage was the home of the May family. For many years Olive May was active in work for housing for older people through the organisation which manages the Balkerne Gardens complex.

When St. Mary’s Cottage became vacant through the deaths of Olive May (d. 03/01/1976) and her two brothers, Edward Sims May (d.11/12/1977) and Ernest Hooper May (d.11/10/1973) , the surviving brother, Charles Lewis and his wife Doreen, were anxious that it should be used for old people’s accommodation. It was their wish that this should be accomplished through the Ogilvie Trust, a Quaker Trust which was already providing almshouse accommodation in Suffolk. They therefore offered to sell the house to the Ogilvie Trust in 1979/1980, at a price well below market value, for this purpose.

The Ogilvie Trust engaged an architect and plans were drawn up to extend the rear of the house to provide sheltered flats; registration was secured as a Housing Association to enable the Trust to obtain funding from the Housing Corporation (now the Homes & Communities Agency). To the Trustees dismay they learned that Colchester Borough Council would not support the proposal. The Council at the time were fearful that large housing associations would come into Colchester and had introduced a ruling that they would only approve schemes of local housing associations. They refused to recognise the Ogilvie Trust as local because its work was in Suffolk and the trustees were not local. Fortunately this ruling was later abolished.

The Ogilvie Trust then approached Christian Action (Colchester Quaker) Housing Association Ltd (CAHA) to ask that the scheme should go ahead in their name. This was agreed provided that no expense was incurred by them, and Derek Crosfield, Director of Christian Action undertook the work pers