Ironmongers’ Almshouses, Mottingham

Above: The main entrance gates to the property.

The Ironmongers’ Almshouses, also known as the Sir Robert Geffrye Almshouses, were originally established in Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, in 1712. The money was provided in the will of Robert Geffrye who died in 1703. The almshouses were in use until 1912 when the Ironmongers’ Company decided to move the residents into new premises in Mottingham Road. The old almshouses in Shoreditch later become the Geffrye Museum – a museum showing the various styles of furniture throughout the centuries, up to the present day. Until the middle of the 20th century, Shoreditch was well-known for being the centre of the furniture trade, along with numerous timber merchants dealing in hardwoods. There were also many companies supplying veneers.

The design of the new premises in Mottingham was in neo-Wren style by George Hubbard, probably modelling them on the design of Morden College – a large complex of almshouses which stand on Blackheath. The Mottingham almshouses are set back behind a large lawn. When the new almshouses were built, Mottingham was completely rural and it must have seemed to the residents that they were being moved to the heart of the countryside.

The almshouse residents used the premises until 1972 when they were transferred to a third site which is at the small town of Hook, in Hampshire. The almshouses at Hook are self-contained flats.

The old almshouses at Mottingham passed first to the Greater London Council (GLC) and later to Bromley Council. They are now known as the Geffrye’s Estate – affordable housing run by Affinity Sutton. Although the elegant terrace is private housing, it is easy to view it from the roadside, through the large wrought iron gates.


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