Bourne's Almshouses

(also known as Framework-knitters Company Almshouses)

138 Kingsland Road, Hackney, E2 8DV


In 1727 Thomas Bourne bequeathed £3,000 for the erection and endowment of almshouses within 5 miles of London, to accommodate 12 poor freemen or their widows of the Framework-knitters Company.

A freehold plot of land, to the north and adjacent to the Ironmongers Almshouses, was sold to the Bourne trustees in 1734 for £145. Work began on the building of the almshouses the same year and they opened in November 1735.

The rectangular site - 200 ft (60 metres) long and 100 ft (30 metres) deep - contained 12 almshouses built of red brick, each one storey high with a basement. They had cost £800 to build.

The main block of 8 dwellings faced Kingsland Road, with the two central cottages projected slightly forward to form a central feature with a low-pitched pediment, under which a commemorative plaque was mounted. A pair of cottage were located to the north and the south at right-angles to the main block, thus forming three sides of a parallelogram. Between the central cottages was an arched passageway, which gave access to a flight of stone steps to the rear, where there was an allotment garden (the rear of the building was lower than the front). A front garden separated the buildings from Kingsland Road.

The remainder of the bequest, some £2,000, provided pensions for the residents (£2 per quarter) and funds for maintenance of the buildings but, instead of investing in land, the trustees made the unfortunate choice of buying Old South-Sea Annuities.

In 1759 the trustees received £300, bequeathed by Mrs Anne Staunton, daughter-in-law of Thomas Bourne, the interest of which was to be used to provide bread and coals for the residents. With this addition, each then received an annual pension of £7 and three sacks of coal.

In 1810 the charity received another bequest - from Mr Thomas Cook - of £2,100. It was hoped this money would improve the rate of the pension paid to the residents.

Financially, however, the trustees struggled to maintain the residents and the buildings. In 1906 the almshouses were sold. The proceeds were used to build new almshouses on land that had been gifted in trust to the Company in Stoughton Lane, Oadby, near Leicester.


Current status

Part of the buildings in Kingsland Road were demolished in 1907 and the remainder a few years later. The site now holds a large modernised 4-storey building, Shoreditch Stables.

N.B. Photographs obtained in June 2020

Site of Bourne's Almshouses

The site now contains Shoreditch Stables, a warehouse that has been converted into offices and living accommodation (above and below).

Site of Bourne's Almshouses

References (1) (2) (2)

Last updated 10th July 2020

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