Colfe's Almshouses, Lewisham ("Kentish Suburbs"). T. R. Way. Signed and dated 1899. Lithograph. Source: Reliques of Old London, 93. Click on image to enlarge it.

Commentary by H. B. Wheatley from Reliques of Old London

THE Rev. Abraham Colfe, Vicar of Lewisham, was a considerable benefactor to this place. In his lifetime he founded a granmiar school for thirty-one boys on Blackheath (within the parish of Lewisham) which was opened in the month of June, 1652, and also an English school at Lewisham. He bequeathed a certain sum of money to be laid out in building five almshouses (to be begun in the month of April, 1662) for poor godly householders of Lewisham parish of sixty years of age or upwards, and able to say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. The Leathersellers' Company added a sixth almshouse.

The Trustees of the Lewisham Charities have the right to nominate five persons to the almshouses, the inmate of the remaining almshouse being appointed from poor freemen of the Leatherseller's Company, or their widows or daughters. Candidates must be single persons of either sex, poor and impotent, of good character, who are not and have not at any time within two years next preceding been in receipt of parochial relief. Inmates receive five shillings a week and medical attendance.

These picturesque buildings on the west side of the village, and to the south of the old church, are of great interest, and show how much more capable the old builders were of giving distinction and architectural effect to commonplace buildings than their successors in the present day.

[This description immediately brings to mind Anthony Trollope's The Warden (1855).]

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Way, T. R., and H. B. Wheatley. Reliques of Old London upon the Banks of the Thames and in the Subburbs South of the River. London: George Bell and Sons, 1909. [title page] Internet Archive version of a copy in the Boston Public Library. Web. 22 April 2012.

Last modified 23 April 2012