Clothworkers Almshouses

Lambe's Chapel Court, Monkwell Street,

Cripplegate, EC2Y 8BJ


In 1568 William Lambe, a wealthy clothworker, bequeathed his chapel in Monkwell Street to the Clothworkers Company. With his connections to the Court of Henry VIII, Lambe had benefitted from the Dissolution of the Monastries. In 1543 the King had granted him the Chapel of St James-in-the-Wall, which had been founded during the reign of Edward I. It was rededicated as Lambe's Chapel.

In 1824 the Chapel was demolished and rebuilt by the Company, as was the chapel keeper's house, and a row of ten almshouses added at a cost of £6,600.

The new almshouses were intended to replace Heath's Almshouses in Islington, also owned by the Company. The building bore the inscription: "John Heath, by his will in 1640 having bequeathed property to the Clothworkers' Company for the building of almshouses for the purposes of solacing the declining years of ten poor freemen of the Company aged 60 years or thereabouts, in pursuance of such bequest ten almshouses were erected at Islington, but the same becoming delapidated, were taken down and the present built at the Company's expense, at the same time the adjoining chapel and clerk's residence were rebuilt, the whole being situated upon ground given by will to the said Company in 1568 by William Lambe, citizen of London. The first stone of the above was laid on the 3rd day of November 1824, by John Ward, Master."

In 1825 the residents of Heath's Almshouses transferred to the new almshouses. They had been either dressers or workers of cloth; each would receive an annual stipend and a chaldron of coals.

In 1870 the Company decided to close the chapel and almshouses. Cripplegate had become the centre of the rag trade. It was too congested and its narrow streets could not cope with the increase in horse-drawn traffic. The Company decided to rebuild new facilities on the land it owned in Islington.

Lambe's Chapel was demolished in 1872 and its crypt transferred by the Company to All Hallows Staining.

Lambe’s Chapel Court was renamed Wood Street Square.


Current status

Cripplegate no longer exists. It was almost entirely destroyed during the Blitz in WW2. The Barbican estate now occupies its site.

The new St James Church was built in Prebend Street, Islington, to replace Lambe's Chapel and was consecrated in 1875. The Company also built new Clothworkers Almshouses for women in Dean Street, adjacent to the Church.

Replacement Clothworkers Almshouses for men were built in Essex Road, Islington.

N.B. Photographs obtained in June 2020

 Barbican Wallside

Wallside, part of the Barbican estate, now occupies the site of Lambe's chapel and the almshouses (above and below).

Barbican Wallside

References (Accessed 11th November 2020)

(Author unstated) 1819 Lambe's Chapel and Almshouses, Cripplegate. In: Londina Illustrata. London, Robert Wilkinson.

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Last updated 11th November 2020

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