From the late seventeenth century onwards, Hackney became home to a number of alms-houses providing care for the poor, the aged, the infirm, and “the insane (and no doubt inconvenient) relatives of the affluent” (Isobel Watson, Hackney and Stoke Newington Past, Historical Publications, 2006).
The first, intended for six poor widows, were built in 1666 at the behest of Dr William Spurstowe, on land to the west of Mare Street in central Hackney. They were rebuilt in 1819, and again in 1966, on a new site on Navarino Road.
The second, for six “poor, civil, honest” men, were built at the behest of Henry Monger in 1669, between what is now Cassland Road and Well Street Common in south Hackney. They were rebuilt in 1847.
The third, for poor widows aged over sixty, were built at the behest of Dr Thomas Wood, a native of Hackney and sometime Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, in 1692, in an attractive location overlooking the pond in Lower Clapton in north Hackney (*). Aside from some late nineteenth- and early twentieth- century restorations, they remain in their original form. They are presently up for sale.
(*) The Bishop had stipulated in his will that the inmates should be provided every other year with new gowns bearing his monogrammed initials T.W. The trustees soon chose to commute this to a money payment.