Morden College, Blackheath ("Kentish Suburbs"). T. R. Way. Signed and dated 1899. Lithograph. Source: Reliques of Old London, 101. Click on image to enlarge it.

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

MORDEN COLLEGE, in Charlton parish, is one of the most charming old red-brick buildings m the neighbourhood of London. It is a square building, with lofty entrance gateway inclosing a quadrangle, and having lodgings, dining-hall and chapel. It is the work of Strong, the master-mason of St. Paul's, who erected it in 1694, and it does great credit to his artistic ability. The red brick is treated with stone quoins and dressings. There was originally a canal in front of the building, which is shown in some or the old prints of the place, but this was drained when the North Kent Railway was carried under the grounds by a tunnel, and the excavated sand was used to form the undulating lawn. There is also a pretty garden behind.

This college was rounded by Sir John Morden, Bart., a wealthy Turkey merchant, who built the house in 1694, as already stated, near his own mansion. Sir John kept twelve decayed merchants here, and by his will, dated Odober 15th, 1702, bequeathed to the College, upon the decease of his wife, all his real and copyhold estates for the maintenance of poor and aged merchants of England, whose fortunes had been ruined by perils of the sea or other unavoidable accidents, preference being given to those who had traded with the Levant. Sir John died in 1708, and Lady Morden was unable to continue her husband's bounty to the twelve merchants. She was therefore obliged during her lifetime to reduce the number to four. She died in 1721, when the whole estate fell to the College. The property has greatly increased in value, and the original scheme has been extended. There are now a chaplain and about forty pensioners, who, besides lodging, maintenance and attendance, have each an annual stipend of £72. The pensioners must be upwards of fifty years of age, bachelors or widowers, and members of the Church of England.

Over the entrance are statues of the founder and his wife. Their portraits are also in the hall and their arms in the chapel^ where they were buried. [101-02]

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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