Hackney: Miscellaneous Institutions

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1995.

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'Hackney: Miscellaneous Institutions', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney, (London, 1995) pp. 73-74. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol10/pp73-74 [accessed 13 April 2024]


Robinson's Retreat was endowed by Samuel Robinson (d. 1833), surveyor to St. Thomas's hospital, (fn. 1) for 8 widows of Independent ministers and 4 widows of Baptists. He designed a two-storeyed Gothic range with a central chapel fronting his own tomb on the south side of Retreat Place and occupying part of 1 a. leased by the hospital in 1812; other parts were reserved for a garden and for houses. The founder was reburied in Abney Park cemetery and the almshouses were mostly let as flats in 1901, after the inmates had left and been given pensions; the range was acquired by the L.C.C. in 1935 and demolished after the war. Robinson's trustees bought the freehold in 1911 and sold nearly all the land in 1940 but retained funds for both the Retreat and a relief charity, founded under his will, in 1991. (fn. 2)

The London Orphan Asylum (fn. 3) was founded in 1813 by Andrew Reed (d. 1862), (fn. 4) who had been trained at Hackney College. The 8-a. site of Hackney school (fn. 5) off Lower Clapton Road, later reached by Linscott Road, was bought in 1820 and the children were transferred to new buildings there in 1825. The asylum included boys' and girls' schools and was administered by the headmaster, who was also chaplain; numbers rose from 206 in 1826 to 453 in the 1860s. The building by W. S. Inman, 'very ambitious although rather cheaply executed', (fn. 6) had a frontage of 19 bays, the central 3 projecting beneath a pedimented Tuscan portico and the outer ones also projecting; it was extended behind in 1846 and included a chapel seating 400 in 1851. (fn. 7) After the orphans had moved to Watford (Herts.) in 1871, the building was occupied by the Metropolitan Asylums Board c. 1873-6 and the Salvation Army from 1882. (fn. 8)

Dalston infant orphan asylum, under royal patronage like the London Orphan Asylum, was founded by Reed in 1827. It moved from Bethnal Green to Dalston Lane in 1832, expanded to occupy three houses, with 170 children in 1842, and made way for the German hospital after moving in 1843 to Essex, where it became the Royal Wanstead school. (fn. 9) The Bakers' Co. of London built almshouses in St. Thomas's Passage (later Lyme Grove) c. 1828; inmates moved to Epping (Essex) in 1973. (fn. 10) The Children's Friend Society supported its first home from 1830 to c. 1841 at Hackney Wick, to train boys for apprenticing in the colonies. It was called Brenton's asylum after the philanthropist Capt. Edward Brenton (d. 1839), who had no known connexion with the area, (fn. 11) and occupied Leny Smith's silk mill. (fn. 12) The girls' branch of a refuge for young ex-prisoners, opened in Lambeth in 1805, moved from Bethnal Green in 1849 to Manor House in Dalston Lane, where, as Dalston Refuge for Destitute Females, it continued as a reformatory under royal patronage, with 86 girls in 1857 supported largely by laundry-work. From 1925 it formed part of the Samuel Lewis trust dwellings. (fn. 13) The Elizabeth Fry refuge for women ex-prisoners opened in 1849 on the site of the later St. Joseph's hospice and moved in the 1860s to no. 195 Mare Street, which it left for Highbury in 1913; the institution amalgamated with Dalston Refuge in 1924. (fn. 14) The Goldsmiths' and Jewellers' annuity institution of Clerkenwell in 1853 built an asylum in Manor (later Holcroft) Road. A two-storeyed range of 16 almshouses, designed by W. P. Griffith in the Tudor style, it was replaced by Orchard primary school. (fn. 15) Almshouses for Sephardic Jews, with an average of seven inmates, were built at the south-east corner of London Fields with funds given in 1851 by Emanuel Pacifico. They were to be sold under a Scheme of 1897, having been supported since 1880 by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' congregation of London, and had been demolished by 1900; the congregation, which had been reimbursed, then offered accommodation at new almshouses which it had built for Barrow's charity in Mile End. (fn. 16) Tre-Wint industrial home was at no. 201 Mare Street by 1859, when it received a parliamentary grant, until 1880 or later; by 1902 it was in Haverstock Hill, Hampstead. (fn. 17) The Hand in Hand asylum for aged Jews was at no. 23 Well Street by 1880; it was united with two other institutions in 1894 and remained until c. 1907. (fn. 18)

The hospital for French protestants, founded in 1708, moved in 1865 from Bath Street, in St. Luke's, to a 3-a. site in Victoria Park Road. In effect an almshouse and larger than any other in Hackney, it opened with 60 inmates. The chateaustyle buildings, designed free of charge by R. L. Roumieu, included an apsidal chapel and were of diapered brick with much ornate Franco-Flemish detail, 'very beefy'. They were taken over by St. Victoire's convent school in 1949 after the hospital had moved to Horsham (Suss.); Cardinal Pole school occupied them in 1990. (fn. 19)

A supporter of the German hospital, (fn. 20) Baron von Schroder (created Sir John Schroder, Bt., in 1892), in 1879 founded a German orphanage at no. 214 Dalston Lane. As the German orphan asylum it moved in 1884 to no. 106 Norfolk (from 1938 Cecilia) Road, where it survived until 1939. Sir John's nephew Freiherr Bruno von Schroder in 1910 established a German old people's home at no. 47 Nightingale Place, whence it moved to Stoke Newington in 1921 or later. (fn. 21) A girls' home, Lutherhaus, was established opposite the German church in 1932 and apparently closed in 1939. (fn. 22)

An orphanage was established in 1881 and managed by the Anglican community of the Holy Childhood, at no. 19 Clapton Common from c. 1897 until the Second World War. (fn. 23) The Woodlands, Clapton Common, was temporarily acquired c. 1882 as a boys' home by the Waifs and Strays Society, whose chairman Bishop Walsham How lived next door at Stainforth House. (fn. 24) The London City Mission moved the Ayahs' Home, an apparently unique institution for Indian women whose employers were staying in England, from Jewry Street (Lond.) in 1900 to no. 26 King Edward's Road and c. 1921 to no. 4 where, as the Ayahs' and Amahs' Home, it continued until c. 1942. (fn. 25) The London Female Penitentiary (later London Female Guardian society) was on the west side of Stoke Newington High Street from 1884 until 1939. (fn. 26) The Mission of Help for the Suffering Poor, founded in 1894, was a tenant at Sutton House from 1931 until 1947. (fn. 27)


  • 1. Colvin, Brit. Architects, 702.
  • 2. Clarke, Hackney, 186, 298; Terrier, Autumn 1991; C. W. Ikin, Sam. Robinson's Chars. (1991) (notes in H.A.D.); H.A.D., 361.1 ROB, WP 12572; Lost Hackney, 49; below, plate 63.
  • 3. Para. based on Robinson, Hackney, i. 132-9; Terrier, Winter 1991, 2-4; N. Alvey, Educ. by Election, Reed's Sch. (St. Albans and Herts. Archit. and Archaeol. Soc. 1990), 16-17 (plan); inf. from H.B.M.C. Lond; Hackney and Stoke Newington Past, 59.
  • 4. D.N.B.
  • 5. Below, educ. (private schs.).
  • 6. Pevsner, Lond. ii. 171.
  • 7. Below, plate 35; P.R.O., HO 129/11/4/1/5.
  • 8. Below, prot. nonconf.
  • 9. Robinson, Hackney, i. 141-2; H.A.D., D/F/TYS/16, pp. 258, 262; D. Grist, A Victorian Char. (1974), 1-7.
  • 10. H.A.D., bldgs. file.
  • 11. Robinson, Hackney, ii. 313, 315; G. Wagner, Children of the Empire (1982), 13; H.A.D., bldgs. file.
  • 12. Research by H.A.D. (1993).
  • 13. H.A.D., D/F/TYS/16, pp. 281-96; ibid. bldgs. file; ibid. D/S/4 (rec. inc. min. bks. to 1902); Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1857-8, H.C. 2386, p. 56 (1857-8), xlv; below, manors (Graham); P.O. Dir. Lond. (1925); above, Dalston.
  • 14. H.A.D., bldgs. file.
  • 15. Ibid.; Watson, Gentlemen, 57; Hackney and Stoke Newington Past, 56 and illus. 68; W.J. Pinks, Hist. of Clerkenwell (1865), 319; Clarke, Hackney, 298 n.; below, educ, (pub. schs.).
  • 16. H.A.D., H/LD 7/4; N. Laski, Laws and Chars. of Spanish and Portuguese Cong. (1952), 149-50, 152; Stanford, Map of Lond. (1862-5 edn.), sheet 7; Hackney and Stoke Newington Past, 56; Jewish Year Bk. (1930).
  • 17. Mins. of Educ. Cttee. of Council, 1859-60, H.C. 2681, p. 687 (1860), liv; P.O. Dir. Lond. Suburbs (1880, 1884); P.O. Dir. Lond. (1902).
  • 18. P.O. Dir. Lond. Suburbs (1880); Jewish Year Bk. (1896-7 and later edns.).
  • 19. Procs. of Huguenot Soc. of Lond. xxi. 354; xxii. 244-5; Hackney and Stoke N. Past, 56; below, plate 37; Pevsner, Lond. ii. 167; H.A.D., bldgs. file; below, educ. (pub. schs.).
  • 20. Below, pub. svces.
  • 21. M. Neumann, 'Account of German Hosp. in Lond. 1845-1948' (Thos. Huxley coll. thesis, 1971, in H.A.D.), 73; H.A.D. D/F/AMH/555, p. 12; Kelly's Dir. Stoke Newington (1908-9 and later edns.); P.O. Dir Lond. (1934 and later edns.).
  • 22. Hamburger Lutherische Kirche, London (1669-1969), 92.
  • 23. H.A.D., bldgs. file; Kelly's Dir. Stoke Newington (1897-8); P.O. Dir. Lond. County Suburbs (1928 and later edns.).
  • 24. H.A.D., D/F/BAG/1, p. 66. Not in P.O. Dir. Lond. County Suburbs North (1880, 1888).
  • 25. H.A.D., bldgs. file; Lond. City Mission Mag. lxv. 172- 4; Hackney and Stoke Newington Past, 59 and illus. 72; P.O. Dir. Lond. (1920 and later edns.).
  • 26. H.A.D., bldgs. file.
  • 27. Inf. from H.A.D. The mission existed in 1994 as St. Martin's rest home, Westcliff-on-Sea (Essex).