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2 April 2014

Visit the Geffrye Museum Almshouses

The real joy of Hackney's Geffrye Museum is the Grade I listed almshouses in which it is situated, originally constructed  in 1714 by the Ironmongers' Company, using a bequest from former Lord Mayor Sir Robert Geffrye, twice master of the Company and former Lord Mayor of London. Whilst it seems a shame that the houses no longer provide homes for pensioners, there are plenty that do, and these have found an admirable alternative use as a Museum since 1914, when the Geffrye Museum opened following the acquisition of the almshouses by London County Council.

Though much of the Museum does not specifically reflect life in the almshouses, Number 14, had much of  its original woodwork and has been restored to demonstrate what life would have been like here for the pensioners of the 18th and 19th centuries. Today is one of the relatively rare openings of the almshouses, for which a modest admission of £2.50 is charged. Other openings take place on 5th, 8th, 16th and 22nd April, 3rd, 7th, 13th, 21st and 27th May 2014, and 4th and 7th June 2014.

For more, see http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/period-rooms-and-gardens/explore-almshouses/

^Picture © Heather Cowper used under a Creative Commons license^


  1. I have seen the exterior architecture and gardens before, but have never had the opportunity to go inside. Thanks for the description of the staircase, upper floors, closets and panelling... all of which I will have to examine.

    I am very impressed that it was leading members of the Arts and Crafts movement who ensured that the special almshouses architecture and history were not lost. Well done, them! Yes the furnishings were sparse and impersonal, but at least 50 pensioners lived with some dignity. What happened to the others, I wonder?

    1. Hi Hels, I understand that the Company then built new almshouses at Mottingham in Kent. Perhaps the remaining old boys were sent there? These were also sold, in 1972, to the Greater London Council, but I imagine the Geffrye pensioners had all died by then.

    2. Here's a picture and some more details (http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/bromley/assets/galleries/mottingham/sir-robert-geffyre-almshouses) which tells us that after this the residents were moved to new self-contained flats at Hook in Hampshire, and the Mottingham building passed to the Greater London Council, then to Bromley Council, then to Broomleigh Housing Association.

      It is now run by Broomleigh Housing Association.

    3. But wait, there's more! Today the same Trust still owns two almshouses in Hampshire, the one at Hook built in 1976 (enlarged in 1987) and another one at Basingstoke which was opened in 1984. These still provide sheltered housing for 125 retired people of limited means - http://www.ironmongers.org/company_sir_robert_gefferys_trust.htm