Morden College

Morden College is a long-standing charity which has been providing residential care in Blackheath, south-east London, England for over 300 years.

Morden College

It was founded by philanthropist Sir John Morden in 1695 as a home for 'poor Merchants... and such as have lost their Estates by accidents, dangers and perils of the seas or by any other accidents ways or means in their honest endeavours to get their living by means of Merchandizing.'[1]

Morden College was built (to a design sometimes attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, but largely carried out by Edward Strong, his master mason)[2] on the north-east corner of the Wricklemarsh estate. It was described by Daniel Lysons in Environs of London (1796):

It is a spacious brick structure, with stone coins and cornices, forming a quadrangle, which is surrounded by piazzas. Over the front are the statues of Sir John Morden and his lady. In the hall are their portraits, and that of Queen Anne. In the chapel are the arms of Sir John and Lady Morden, and a record of benefactions to the College since the founder's death.[3]

The original college buildings were intended to house 40 single or widowed men. Today, Morden College is a Grade I listed building (designated 19 October 1951).[4]


Turkey Company Period (1708–1826)Edit

College trustees were drawn from the Turkey Company.[5] Lysons reported:

Sir John Morden placed twelve decayed Turkey merchants in this College in his lifetime. He died in 1708, having by his will, bearing date 1702, endowed the College, after the death of his lady, with estates which are now about 1600l. per annum. Lady Morden, finding her income not sufficient to continue her husband's bounty to twelve merchants, was obliged, during her life, to reduce the number to four. She died in 1721, when the whole estate fell in to the College. The pensioners must be upwards of 50 years of age, bachelors or widowers, and members of the church of England; their pension is 40s. per month. There are commodious apartments for 30, which number, if any vacancies have happened, is filled up once a-year. The College is under the government of seven trustees of the Company of Turkey Merchants, who elect the pensioners.[3]

English Turkey merchant and Morden College benefactor Francis Levett, attired in Turkish costume, circa 1750

Subsequent donations to the college by prominent Turkey merchants and their wives helped assure that the college would survive. Lysons recorded those donors and the totals of their gifts:[3]

Year Person Value of gift
1721 Lady Morden £100
1723 Sir Charles Cooke £100
1729 Sir Peter Delmé £100
1751 William Hanger, Esq £100
1751 Richard Chiswell, Esq £100
1752 Thomas Cooke, Esq £114
1764 Francis Levett, Esq[6] £200
1772 Richard Chiswell, Esq £200
1774 Richard Pyke, Esq £1000
1774 John March, Esq £500
1775 Sir Gregory Page £300
1788 John Jamet, Esq £50

East India Company Period (1827–1884)Edit

The first British East India Company Trustee was William Astell. He held the position from 1827 to 1847.[5] John Lubbock was Chairman of the Trustees from 1873 to 1889.[5]

Court of Aldermen of the City of London Period (1884 – )Edit

During the 20th century, admission requirements were amended so that the college could accommodate women and married couples, and several new buildings were added. The college also manages other homes in Blackheath and in Beckenham. Today, it functions as a retirement home.

Other key peopleEdit


Notable residentsEdit


  1. ^ AIM25, Archives in London and the M25 Area
  2. ^ Allinson, Kenneth (2008). The Architects and Architecture of London. Oxford: Architectural Press, an imprint of Elsevier Ltd. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7506-8337-1.
  3. ^ a b c From: 'Charlton', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 324–42. URL: Date accessed: 3 October 2007.
  4. ^ Morden College 19, Greenwich, Date accessed: 21 October 2011)
  5. ^ a b c Joyce, Patrick (1982). The History of Morden College, Blackheath, 1695 to the Present. Gresham Books. ISBN 0-905418-91-3.
  6. ^ Francis Levett of Nethersole, Kent, was born in London to English trader Francis Levett (merchant). Francis Levett Jr. was chief representative of the Levant Company at Constantinople 1737–1750 and a director of the London Assurance Corporation. He lived much of his life at Livorno, Italy, and died at Nethersole 21 February 1764.
  7. ^ "Deaths". The Times. 3 November 1959. p. 1.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°28′10″N 0°01′09″E / 51.4695°N 0.0192°E / 51.4695; 0.0192