Tag Archives: Hackney

The Late Seventeenth-Century Alms-Houses of Hackney

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).

Site of Spurstowe's Alms- Houses

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.

Monger's House (rebuilt 1847)

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.


Another in the occasional series on “Far-Flung Lost London” …

Hackney was first recorded in 1198 as Hakeneia,  in 1222, from the  Old English personal name Haca, and eg, referring to an island in or peninsula on the River Lea.  In the post-Medieval period, it became a popular location for aristocratic country houses.  It remained semi-rural until as recently as the nineteenth century.

Church of St Augustine

The church of St Augustine was originally built here sometime before 1275, possibly on the site of and older, Norman or even Saxon church.    It was subsequently rededicated to St John sometime between 1660 and 1790, and substantially demolished between 1797-98, after a  new church dedicated to St John was built nearby.  Only the tower survives.

Far-Flung Lost London II – Hackney

Hackney was first recorded as Hakeneia in 1198, and is thought to take it’s name either from the Old English personal name  “Haakon” or  “Haca”, or the word  “haca”, meaning hook-shaped, and “eg”, meaning island, or area of high and dry ground surrounded by low marsh.

The courtier Ralph Sadleir built a house here in 1535, which still stands, on what is now Homerton High Street.    Now known as Sutton House, after Thomas Sutton, the founder of Charterhouse School, who was once thought to have lived here (but in fact did  not), it is  owned by the National Trust, and open to the public.

Sadly, Brooke House, built here in the 1470s, and extended between 1578-83, had to be demolished in 1954-5 after sustaining bomb damage in 1940 and again in 1944 (although a photograph of the bombed house taken in 1941 still survives).

Pictures of Sutton House:

Bob pics of London 026      Bob pics of London 033

Bob pics of London 037      Bob pics of London 039

Bob pics of London 038       Bob pics of London 027