Spurstowe's Almshouses

1-11 Sylvester Path, Hackney, E8 1EN


In 1666 Revd Dr William Spurstowe, the former vicar of Hackney, built six almshouses for elderly widows from Hackney, but died shortly afterwards, before he could endow them. His brother and heir, Alderman Henry Spurstowe, carried out this task by endowing the almshouses with 16 acres of land, then transferring both almshouses and land to trustees by deed of a gift dated 22nd August 1667.

In 1667 each almswoman received a stipend of £6 every quarter day - Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer Day (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December).

In 1689 Henry Spurstowe's son erected a plaque recording the founding of the almshouses in some detail: "Out of the pious intention of William Spurstowe DD deceased, formerly vicar of this parish of Hackney, these six almshouses were erected & built Anno Dmni. 1666 for the habitations & dwellings of six poor widows of this parish of good life & conversation, who died before he made a settlement upon the said almshouses & after his decease Henry Spurstowe, late of London Esq, brother to the said Dr, to perfect the Dr's good work Anno Dmni 1667 settled for ever certain lands in the said parish on several trustees for the said six poor widows' better support & maintenance & for no other persons whatsoever. In testimony whereof Henry Spurstowe of London gent. son of the said Henry hath erected this inscription Anno Domini 1689."

In 1753 the quarterly stipend for the almswomen was increased to 6 guineas (£6.30). In 1755 this income was augmented by £1 at Christmas, under the will of Henry Baker.

In 1819 the almshouses were rebuilt. The single-storey buildings occupied the southwestern half of Sylvester Path, a narrow passage.

In 1877, as well as fuel, the almswomen were receiving a weekly pension of 8 to 10 shillings (40-50p), and an extra 5 shillings (25p) at Christmas from George Clarke's will.

In 1906 the trustees of Dr Spurstowe's Charity took over the administration of Bishop Wood's Almshouses.

In 1960 the residential qualification for applicants to the almshouses was redefined as "having lived in the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney for two years". Plans were made by the trustees to rebuild the almshouses at a new site.

In 1966 the residents moved to new almshouses at Dr William Spurstowe House in Navarino Road.


Current status

The almshouses were demolished in 1966. The site is now occupied by an apartment block, with its entrance off Wilton Way on the south side.

The 1689 plaque and cartouche of arms were transferred from the almshouse buildings to Dr William Spurstowe House.

N.B. Photographs obtained in May 2020

Spurstowe's Almshouses

Looking north through Sylvester Path, which runs behind the Hackney Empire.

Spurstowe's Almshouses

The site of the almshouses is on the left side of the image. The Old Ship pub is on the right.

Spurstowe's Almshouses

Modern housing now occupies the site (above and below).

Spurstowe's Almshouses

References (Accessed 27th February 2021)

Clarke FR 1893 Glimpses of Ancient Hackney and Stoke Newington. London, AT Roberts, Sox & Co. p65
Gwilt CP (ed) 1836 Notices relating to Thomas Smith of Campden, and to Henry Smith, sometime Alderman of London. London, George Woodfall. 39-40. (1) (2) (1) (2) (1) (2)

Last updated 26th February 2021

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