Davis's Almshouses

65-79 Queen's Head Street, Islington, N1 8NA


In 1794 eight almshouses were built by Mrs Jane Davis, the widow of John Davis, a local carpenter who had bequeathed £2,000 for them to be erected and endowed in his will.

The small row of almshouses was built on the southwest side of Queen's Head Lane. They provided accommodation for married couples or widows aged 50 years or over, who were members of the Church of England, but not necessarily from Islington. Each almsperson received an annual stipend of £10.

A stone plaque mounted above the central two doors read: "In the year of our Lord 1794 these eight alms houses were created & endowed for the reception and maintenance of aged and poor persons by Mrs Jane Davis, in pursuance of the will of her deceased husband Mr John Davis late of this Parish" (followed by a list of trustees).

In order to prevent the almshouses from becoming a 'nursery for nurses', no doctor or apothecary was permitted to become a trustee.

In 1810 an oil portrait of Mrs Davis was hung in No. 7 by its inhabitant, Mrs Hughes. It had been presented to the trustees by Mr John Powell of Cross Street and was inscribed on the reverse: This portrait of Mrs Jane Davis who founded and endowed these Almshouses was presented to the Trustees of the Charity by Mr John Powell of Cross Street, Islington A.D. 1810. This picture not to be removed from the Almshouses. (The painting now resides in the Islington Local History Centre and Museum).

In 1866 Queen's Head Lane was renamed Queen's Head Street.

By 1895 the charity possessed £3,500 in stock, in part bequeathed by Jane Davis, who had directed that the almshouses should not come under the control of the parish officers. Any interest was to be used to maintain the buildings and any residue to be distributed to the residents.

In 1917 each almsperson received an annual stipend of £5 or £6.

During WW2 (1939-1945) the almshouses suffered bomb damage in October and November 1940, at the beginning of the Blitz.

The derelict buildings were demolished in 1946. Their site was sold in 1964 and the proceeds invested; the resulting income was used to help the poor of Islington.


Current status

The site now contains Raleigh Mews - a complex of apartment blocks.

N.B. Photographs obtained in June 2020

Raleigh Mews

The corner of Essex Road and Queen's Head Street, with the old Queen's Head pub on the corner.

Raleigh Mews

Raleigh Mews (on the right of the image) was built on the site of the almshouses.

Raleign Mews

The site of the almshouses.

References (Accessed 14th November 2020)

Brewer JN 1816 The Beauties of England and Wales. London, Longman & Co.

Cromwell T 1835 Walks through Islington; Comprising an Historical and Descriptive Account of that Extensive and Important District, both in its Ancient and Present State. London, Sherwood, Gilbert & Piper. 238-239.

Nelson J 1811 The History, Topography and Antiquities of the Parish of St. Mary Islington, in the County of Middlesex. London, self-published. 404-405.

Willetts EA 2017 Streets with a story. London, Islington Heritage Service (1) (2)

Last updated 14th November 2020

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