History of Lloyd Court Almshouse

St Olave’s Union Workhouse

Before the mid 1800’s Slagrave farm and the Ravensbourne river covered much of what is now Ladywell. Except for St Mary’s church and Ladywell house, there were very few other buildings in the area. Ladywell acquired its name from a spring, or well, called ‘well of our lady’ which was founded in the 1400’s. The water was said to have healing properties and attracted many people to the site. In the mid 1800’s Ladywell developed rapidly, with the introduction of railways and a new brick bridge replacing the old wooden bridge that had served as the only passage into Lewisham, Ladywell became a lively village, with housing, shops, pubs, public baths, municipal buildings and even a cemetery. The introduction of sewer pipes and railways diverted the course of the rivers and the well dried up. It is now marked by a plaque on a house in Ladywell Road. Between 1897 and 1900 The Bermondsey Poor Law Guardians purchased the farm to build a new workhouse.

St Olave’s union workhouse, often referred to as The Bermondsey Institution was built in 1900 and was the newest of three workhouses built to support the poor people of Bermondsey and surrounding areas. Initially it was intended to house the elderly and infirm, however some evidence suggests that many younger people and children also lived there. The other two workhouses were situated in Rotherhithe, which was converted into an infirmary to provide poor people with medical care, and Bermondsey, which housed people of working age and their children. The workhouse was accessed from Slagrove Place on Ladywell Road, where the horse’s stables and Gate Keepers House were situated. The Workhouse gates and the Gate keepers House still stand today.

During the first world war, the Bermondsey institution was used as a military hospital, providing nearly 800 beds for sick and wounded soldiers. During that time, a battalion of over 200 soldiers serving in Eastern Africa had been struck with malaria and were treated at the military hospital with experimental remedies.

In 1930, the hospital was taken over by the London County Council welfare Department and was used as a residential home for the elderly. In the 1940’s a residential nursery was added onto the workhouse grounds, approximately where the horse’s stables were situated at the entrance gates. The Nursery could house 150 children. In 1952, control of the nursery transferred to the London County Council children’s Committee. By 1975 much of the building was demolished. Today the twin buildings used as the dining Hall and administration block and the water tower remain on Dressington Avenue as private residential accommodation.

LLoyd Court Almshouse

The Lloyd Court almshouse was built in 1995 on the site of the horse’s stables and nursery, at the entrance to the driveway of the workhouse on Slagrove Place. It was mainly funded by the Lewisham Parochial Charities, a group of amalgamated charities working to provide relief for the poor people of Lewisham.

The almshouses took their name from Mrs Ena Lloyd Lloyd a previous chair of the Lewisham Parochial Charities.

“The wardens are very professional and dedicated to keeping the residents safe and  secure. The building is also perfectly maintained. As safe as the bank of England!”
– Resident