Hatcliffe's Almshouses

1 Catford Road, Rushey Green, SE6 4RU


In 1620 William Hatcliff, a London lawyer, then living in East Greenwich, bequeathed to trustees various properties (with a capital worth of £800*) so that half the annual income could be used for the relief of the poor of East Greenwich, and the other half for the support of the needy in the parishes of Lee and Lewisham.

Over two centuries would pass before the charity built almshouses in his name - one in Rushey Green and one in Greenwich. Both were erected in 1857.

William Hatcliffe had once lived at Rushey Green Place and it was by chance that the parish was awarded a plot of land on Rushey Green by the Commisioners of Enclosure.

The almshouses survived until the 1920s. Lewisham Town Hall had been built to the east of them in 1875. When plans were made to expand the Town Hall (a west wing was added in 1932), the almshouses moved away to Bromley Road in 1925.

Although there is an entry in Tom's Wills, giving an address for Hatcliffe Almshouses at 172 Bromley Road, the trail stops there.  

If anyone can provide further information, please contact:

Current status

The charities supporting Hatcliffe's Almshouses in Lewisham and Colfe's Almshouses amalgamated their funds. In 1952 they opened new almshouses in the High Street, opposite the original Colfe's Almhouses. They are known as Colfe and Hatcliffe Glebe.

William Hatcliff originally came from Hatcliffe in East Lincolnshire.  Over the years his name has acquired an 'e', while his almshouses have variously lost their apostrophe 's'.

*The equivalent worth of 1620's £800 would have been either £232,000 in 2019 (Bank of England), £105,000 in 2017 (National Archives) or £168,000 in 2019 (
Measuringworth).  In 1620 for £800 one could buy 97 horses or 430 cows, or 2,352 st of wool, or 443 quarters of wheat, or pay a skilled tradesman for 16,000 days.

N.B. Photographs obtained in July 2020

Sir of Hatcliffe's Almshouses

A new Town Hall has replaced the original one built in 1875.

Site of Hatcliffe's Almhouses

The site of the almshouses is now occupied by the West Wing of the current Town Hall (above and below).

Site of Hatcliffe's Almshouses

References (Accessed 7th August 2020)

Jordan WK 1961 Social Institutions in Kent, 1480-1660.  Archealogica Cantiana 75, 24.

Last updated 7th August 2020

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