1780s almshouse room - photography Morley von Sternberg
The Geffrye is set in almshouses built in 1714 by the Ironmongers' Company, with a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, twice master of the Company and former Lord Mayor of London. For almost two hundred years the almshouses provided homes for around fifty poor pensioners. They are now recognised for their historical importance as Grade I listed buildings.
By the early 20th century Hoxton had become one of the most overcrowded and unsavoury parts of London, and the Ironmongers' Company decided to sell its Kingsland Road property in order to relocate the almshouses to a healthier area. The site was bought by London County Council wanting to provide public open space in such a densely populated area. Leading members of the Arts and Crafts movement petitioned the Council not to demolish the almshouses, and it was agreed to convert the buildings into a museum which opened in 1914.
One of the almshouses, No. 14, has been restored and can now be visited. It still has most of its internal woodwork intact, including its staircase, upper floors, closets and panelling and is furnished to show the living conditions of poor pensioners in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Visitors are able to compare the sparse furnishings and few personal possessions of the generally poor elderly residents of the 18th century with the rather more comfortable surroundings of the better-off pensioners of the late 19th century, and with those of middle class homes of the time in the museum's main displays.
Displays about the history of the Geffrye almshouses, philanthropic and social housing in East London and the kind of people who lived there, can be found in two further rooms and the basement.
A History of the Geffrye Almshouses by Dr Kathy Haslam is available from the museum shop.
Visiting the almshouse
Visitors will have a chance to visit the restored almshouse on the following days:
- Saturdays: 4 June, 2 July, 6 August, 3 September, 17 September*, and 1 October 2016
- Tuesdays: 7 and 21 June, 12 and 26 July, 9 and 23 August, 13 and 27 September 2016
- Wednesdays: 1 and 15 June, 6 and 20 July, 3 and 17 August, 7 and 21 September, and 5 October 2016
Timed entries are at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm
Tickets to enter the Restored Almshouse (please note that general museum admission is free):
Adults £4, Friends of the Geffrye, disabled visitors (and their companion) and children under 16 free. Places are limited: first-come, first-served. Please note that only groups of 8 or more can book in advance.
* Open House London - free almshouse tours
Saturday 17 September, 10.15 - 12.15pm and 2 - 4.15pm. Last entry 4pm
Places are limited: first-come, first-served.
Group visits to the almshouse
Advance booking by groups of 8 or more can be made by contacting the Information and Bookings Officer on 020 7739 9893 (1st and 3rd Wednesdays only).
See 360 view of an almshouse room in 1780
See 360 view on an almshouse room in 1880
See our Virtual Tour.