Thrale Almshouses

27 Polworth Road, Streatham, SW16 2HA


In 1832 Hester Maria, Susannah Arabella and Cecilia Margaretta, the three remaining daughters of Henry Thrale, a wealthy local landowner, founded almshouses in his memory.

The almshouses, located in Streatham High Street, provided accommodation for four poor widows or single women of Streatham who "had attained an honest old age". On the front of the building was the inscription: QUATUOR MULIERIBUS, QUAE IN HAC PAROCHIA PAUPERES SENECTUTEM HONESTAM ATTIGERINT, HENRICI THRALE QUATUOR NATAE HAS AEDES DOMICILIUM POSERUNT. A.D. MDCCCXXXII. (Roughly translated: These houses, for four women, poor of this parish, who have arrived at an honourable old age, could have been a dwelling for four of Henry Thrale's children. 1832.)

During the 1930s the almshouses, now 100 years old, were demolished and rebuilt on Polworth Road.

The new almshouses consisted of three separate single-storey blocks with pitched roofs, arranged around three sides of a quadrangle.

Initially they contained eight dwellings but, in 1939, were supplemented by another two almshouses. These were built as a memorial to Lady Edith Robinson, the wife of the leader of the Streatham Conservative Association. A sum of £1,000 had been raised to cover the cost of the buildings.

By the early 2000s the almshouses had become somewhat decrepit and difficult to let. They lacked kitchens and food preparation areas, being furnished only with a hotplate and a small worktop. The bathroom and toilet facilities were considered outmoded and too small.

A £3m upgrade and redevelopment was initiated. The side wings - containing eight of the original ten almshouses - were retained. These were upgraded and extended. The original central block was demolished and replaced with a new building containing three almshouses. An additional block - containing six almshouses - was added to the previously empty fourth side of the quadrangle, thus securing the courtyard.

The almshouses were officially reopened in 2015 by Chuka Umunna, then M.P for Streatham.


Current status

The almshouses now contain 17 dwellings. They are managed by the Thrale Almshouse and Relief in Need Charity. This charity caters for women living in the area of the Ancient Parish of Streatham, which includes Tooting, Balham and Streatham, and parts of Brixton, Tulse Hill and West Norwood. Women aged 60 years or over, who have strong connections with the Ancient Parish, are eligible to apply for almshouse accommodation.

N.B. Photographs obtained in February 2020

Thrale Almshouses

The first site of the almshouses was at Nos. 103-105 Streatham High Road. It is now occupied by Pratts & Payne, a public house.


Thrale Almshouses

Only the original side wings of the second almshouses survive. They have been completely modernised.

Thrale Almshouses

New central blocks have been added at the front and the rear of the almshouses (above and below). The new buildings have no chimneys.

Thrale Almshouses


Thrale Almshouses

The front central block provides the main entrance to the almshouse complex.

Thrale Almshouses

A stone plaque commemorating the new building is mounted on the front elevation.

References (Accessed 22nd November 2021)

Last updated 22nd November 2021

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