Drapers' Almshouses, Priscilla Road

Pages 26-27

Survey of London: Volume 1, Bromley-By-Bow. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1900.

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Ground Landlord, Leaseholders, &c.

Mr. W. Girton, machine dealer, of Bow-road, has leased the chapel for the past 20 years. The houses on either side of the chapel are occupied and in private hands.

General description and date of structure.

Formerly the almshouses covered three sides of a quadrangle, in the same manner as the principal block of the Trinity Hospital in Mile-end-road. There were six houses on each of the east and west sides, and at the southern end, facing the road, a central block containing the chapel and four houses.

This block is now the only remaining portion of the almshouses, and stands at the southern end of Priscilla-road, at right angles to it, parallel to Bow-road, and adjoining the North London Railway on the west side. It is rectangular in plan, with the chapel slightly projecting in the centre. The front of the chapel is of very finely-rubbed red bricks, and is crowned by an elaborate moulded and blocked wood pediment and cornice, which cornice is also continued on each side to form the eaves of the houses. In the centre of the pediment is an elliptical shield bearing an inscription recording the foundation of the almshouses, but now much defaced. Above it were the arms of the founder—according to Lysons (Gu. a pale wavy Erm: between six escallop shells or.); these are now missing.

Over the entrance doorway to the chapel is a wooden pediment supported by carved brackets with charming little cherubs, each looking inwards. The windows are circular-headed, and the external angles of the chapel front have stone quoins.

The houses on either side of the chapel have very little that is noteworthy in design beyond the square-headed and mullioned windows: the rooms inside are of plain wood panelling.

Condition of repair.

The interior of the chapel has been almost entirely ruined save for the plaster cornice and cove next the ceiling. It has in fact, since the demolition of the other houses about 25 years ago, been used as a warehouse and store room.

Historical notes.

It is stated in Lysons' Environs that the almoshouses were erected for 12 poor persons in 1706, by the Drapers' Company. Dunstan (Hist. Brom.) says that part of the ground they stood on was taken from the adjoining almshouses (Sir John Jolles') which stood on the spot now occupied by the Bromley Vestry Hall and the adjoining shops. In addition to this, says Strype, an additional piece of land was purchased, "about three-quarters of an acre, more or less, which cost the company £195." "These two pieces of land were then thrown together, and formed what we now call the Alms House field, measuring a.1 3 28. On this last mentioned piece, the company built a chapel and twelve almshouses; corresponding with those eight on the opposite side, the whole forming three sides of a square, having the chapel in the centre of the south side and facing towards the road. Over the door of the chapel is a neat tablet having the following inscription"—

Mr John Edmunson, Saylemaker,
dec'd, out of a pious & charitable
intention for Relief of Twelve poor
people left an Estate To the
Worshipful Company of Drapers
To whose worthy memory & in
pursuance of their trusts, they
have built this Chappel and
twelve Almshouses.
Anno Domini, 1706.

The estate, which was left for the maintenance of these almshouses, produced about £180 per annum in 1706, but increased so that in 1836 four additional houses were built (Dunstan).

Bibliographical references.

Lysons (Environs, 1810–Middlesex, vol. i., p. 44) mentions the almshouses very briefly, but Dunstan (History of Bromley, pp. 205–212) gives a very complete history of these and adjoining almshouses.
Strype, Survey of London, Appendix, cap. I. p. 112.
Brewer, Beauties of England and Wales, vol. x., p. 290.

In the Committee's MS. collection are—

* General view of the front of the almshouses (photo).
Detail view of doorway and front of chapel (photo).
* Details of the carved scrolls to chapel door (drawing).

* Those marked with an asterisk are reproduced here.