Joel Emanuel Almshouses

Wellclose Square, Whitechapel, E1 8HY


In 1840 Joel Emanuel, a former Bevis Marks silversmith and jeweller, provided funds for ten almshouses for elderly poor Sephardic Jews.

The almshouses were erected at the southwest corner of Wellclose Square, on the site of what had been a sugarhouse. They opened in August 1849 - the largest of the Jewish almshouses in London.

The ten houses - five on each side of an open courtyard - were capable of accommodating 50 people. A small synagogue stood at the rear of the courtyard, facing the southern side of the Square.

Each almsperson received a weekly allowance of 1s 6d (8p) and an annual allowance of 2 tons of coal.

In 1859 the Board of Guardians for the Relief of the Jewish Poor (more commonly known as the Jewish Board of Guardians) was established. One of the first set of institutions that the Board controlled was the Jewish almshouses, under the administration of the Almshouse Committee. These included the Jacob Henry Moses Almshouses, the Joel Emanuel Almshouses and the Moses and Solomon Almshouses.

In 1903 the Wellclose Square buildings were offered for sale and, in 1904, the residents were transferred to newly built Joel Emanuel Almshouses in Egerton Road, Hackney.


Current status

In 1904 the almshouses were demolished and their site redeveloped as a tea warehouse. That building was extended eastwards in the 1950s as part of Twining Crosfield & Co.

In the late 1960s the whole area was levelled for redevelopment by the GLC. The site of the almshouses became an electricity substation at one time, but is now vacant.

N.B. Photographs obtained in July 2020

Joel Emanuel Almshouses

Today the site of the almshouses is once again awaiting redevelopment.

References (Accessed 28th April 2021)

Last updated 28th April 2021

Click here to return to Almshouses of London alphabetical list
Click here to return to home page