Beeston's Almhouses, Peckham | Look Up London

History of Beeston’s Almshouses, Peckham

Along Consort Road in Peckham you can admire the quaint-looking Beeston’s almshouses.

Beeston's Almhouses, Peckham | Look Up London

As well as their charming appearance and characteristic almshouse layout, the aspect that really piqued my interest was the shield of the Girdlers’ Company.

You can spot more of these in Farringdon (featured on my Clerkenwell walk in my book!)

The Worshipful Company of Girdlers

The Girdlers’ Company have a recorded history going back to 1327 when King Edward III granted them Letters Patent. This gave them a monopoly over the trade of girdles (making belts and other metalwork) and allowed them to regulate manufacturing standards and see off competitors.

The company’s Arms – granted in 1454 – contains three gridirons, chosen because griddle-iron sounds similar to girdler. Their patron saint is Lawrence of Rome who was grilled to death(!) on a gridiron in AD258.

London weathervanes

The church of St Lawrence Jewry by the City of London Guildhall has a gridiron weathervane and the Girdlers’ Company have been associated with that church for centuries.

The name Beeston is a nod to Cuthbert Beeston, a past Master of the Girdlers’ Company who left seven houses to the company in his will of 1582.

Beeston's Almhouses, Peckham | Look Up London

Originally, the bequeathed houses weren’t in Peckham, but at the south end of London Bridge. These were compulsory purchased in 1834 when the Old London Bridge (1209-1831) was being replaced by the John Rennie’s London Bridge (1831-1970).

In the 1828 map below you can see both the new and old London bridges marked across the Thames. The original almshouses were on the south approach to the Old London Bridge.

Image credit: layersoflondon.org – C and J Greenwood 1828

The proceeds of that sale funded a two-storey almshouse building in Peckham.

Today they’re home to 20 residents and when the occasional vacancy does appear the criteria is fairly strict, the charity stipulating that the residents shall be “poor persons in the following categories”;

  • Freemen of the City of London;
  • Persons who are, or have been, employed in trades akin to that of a Girdler (including workers in metals, leather, cloths and fabrics);
  • Persons resident in the former administrative county of London, as constituted on 31st March 1965.

The almshouses were built in 1834, designed in a Tudor-esque style with gabled roofs at each end and hexagonal chimneys. Presumably this is a nod to their 16th century foundation and I found the overall effect visually striking and totally charming.

Beeston's Almhouses, Peckham | Look Up London

Peckham has a few other notable almshouses. I wrote about the former Asylum and Caroline Gardens chapel after visiting for Open House London.

There’s also more Girdlers’ Company almshouses in Choumert Road. Similar to Beeston’s, they were funded by a past Master, George Palyn in 1610 and were originally in the City before moving further into the London suburbs. You can see photos of them here

More London Inspiration

Latest Blog Posts

  • History of the Hop Exchange | Look Up London

    History of the Hop Exchange

    The most eye-catching building along Southwark Street is the Hop Exchange and it has a fascinating history......

  • Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women | Look Up London

    History of the Royal Waterloo Hospital For Children and Women

    One of the most eye-catching buildings beside Waterloo Station is the former Royal Waterloo Hospital for Children and Women....

  • Old Royal Naval College | Look Up London

    Climb the Dome at the Old Royal Naval College

    There's a new tour you can take in Greenwich! Here's what it's like to climb the dome at the Old Royal Naval College....

  • Visit the Thames Tunnel at the Brunel Museum | Look Up London

    Visit the Thames Tunnel at the Brunel Museum

    In Rotherhithe, you can descend into part of the Thames Tunnel, a ground-breaking slice of engineering history. Here you can step down into the world’s first tunnel dug under a navigable river, built between 1824-1843. Today it’s part of The Brunel Museum. History of the......

  • Vauxhall Park Model Village | Look Up London

    History of Vauxhall Park

    Vauxhall Park was opened in 1890 by the then Prince of Wales (later, King Edward VII) but its origin story takes us back to a remarkable couple in the mid 1880s. In 1875 Millicent Garret Fawcett and Henry Fawcett rented 51 South Lambeth Road. The......

  • Beeston's Almhouses, Peckham | Look Up London

    History of Beeston’s Almshouses, Peckham

    Along Consort Road in Peckham you can admire the quaint-looking Beeston’s almshouses. As well as their charming appearance and characteristic almshouse layout, the aspect that really piqued my interest was the shield of the Girdlers’ Company. You can spot more of these in Farringdon (featured......

1 Comment

  • theoldbuilding

    Reply

    Such lovely houses. They look really nice in white.

    May 17, 2023 at 3:13 pm

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BOOK NOW