|Beeston's Gift Almshouses||Southwark|
Beeston's Gift Almshouses were built by the Girdlers' Company in 1834 as a terrace of 7 Tudor-style houses, in front of which is a pleasant garden with railings to the road, mature trees, lawns, shrubs, roses and a mid-C19th cast-iron water pump. They are named after Cuthbert Beeston, Master of the Girdlers' Company, who left property near London Bridge where the first Girdlers' Almshouses were founded in 1582. That site was sold in 1824 when land was needed for building a new London Bridge, enabling the Girdlers' Company to buy the site in Consort Road and to build Beeston's Gift Almshouses. The terrace was extended in the 1960s with the addition of two one-storey wings when two other small almshouses were re-located here, those of Richard Andrews and of George Palyn, the latter previously located in Choumert Road.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2007
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Beeston's Gift Almshouses were built to house freemen of the Girdlers' Company or their wives, each of whom received a pension in addition to the accommodation. The cast-iron railings, gates and stone piers are also of c.1835. Cuthbert Beeston was Master of the Girdlers' Company in 1570, and left property to the Company on the south of the river near London Bridge. The first Girdlers' Almshouses were founded there in 1582 but the Company sold the site in 1824 for £11,500 when the land was needed for building a new London Bridge. In 1833 approval was given by an order of the Court of Chancery for the Company's scheme to use this sum to build and support 7 new almshouses. This enabled the Company to buy the site in Consort Road, then called Nunhead Road, and to build Beeston's Gift Almshouses.
The almshouse terrace was extended in the 1960s with the addition of two one-storey wings when two other small almshouses were established here, those of Richard Andrews and those of George Palyn. George Palyn was a past Master of the Girdlers' Company, who in the early C17th had left £900 for almshouses for the relief of 'six aged blynde and ympotent men of honest report and being freemen of London'. Under his will of 1610 £260 was to be spent within 2 years securing royal permission and building the almshouses, the remainder to be invested within 3 years in property that would bring in at least £40 over and above what was necessary for the maintenance of the almshouses, and this was to be distributed equally among the residents. The Girdlers' Company became the Trustees of Palyn's Charity and Palyn's Almshouses were initially established at St Luke's Old Street in 1612/3 on a plot of land purchased for £45 in Pesthouse Row. Properties in Abchurch Lane and Sherbourne Lane were purchased by the Company in 1613 for its investment. The Almshouses escaped the Great Fire of 1666 but the properties that provided its endowment were destroyed, but later rebuilt and rents continued to provide for the residents of Palyn's Almshouses until c.1916. By the mid C19th the almshouses were dilapidated and they were rebuilt in 1851 on land donated by Thomas Watkins, Master of the Girdlers in 1836, in Montpelier Road, Peckham, now the corner of Choumert Road and Choumert Grove. They remained here until moving to the Beeston's site when the Girdlers' almshouses were consolidated on the site at Consort Road, providing accommodation for 26 residents.
The requirements for residents remain the same today, that they must be Freemen of the City of London, employed in a trade akin to that of a girdler, such as working in metal or leather, and be resident in what was the former county of London as constituted on 31 March 1965. The restored almshouses won a Civic Trust Heritage Year Award in 1995. The garden has mature trees, lawns, shrubs, roses set into lawn and a mid-C19th cast-iron water pump.
Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; Clive Berridge, the Almshouses of London (Southampton), 1987; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Southwark Listed Buildings data; T C Barker, 'The Girdlers' Company, A Second History' (S Straker & Sons Ltd, 1957).
LPGT Volunteer Research by Patricia Birch