Inventory Site Record

Josiah Forster's Almshouses (Haringey)

Brief Description

Forster's Cottages is a terrace of four single-storey almshouses with some original features remaining. At the front is a pretty cottage-style strip of communal garden and a grass area behind the houses. The almshouses were endowed by the Quaker Forster family in 1862 and remain sheltered housing for the elderly.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Forster's Cottages
Site location:
88-94 Philip Lane, Tottenham
N15 4JJ
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Open to public?
Opening times:
private, front garden visible from road
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Seven Sisters (Victoria), Turnpike Lane (Piccadilly). Bus: 230, 341
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.anchor.org.uk

Full Site Description

Forster's Cottages is a terrace of four single-storey cottages with some original features remaining. There was a strong Quaker presence in C18th and C19th Tottenham, with a meeting house built here in 1712. The Forster family were Quakers and had moved to Tottenham from Birmingham in 1752 and from that time Josiah Forster II ran a Friends School at Reynardson's House, close to the site of these almshouses. When he died in 1763 the house remained in the family but is since demolished. A plan of William Forster's freehold and copyhold at Tottenham High Cross 1757/1779 shows the future site of the almshouses as an orchard. In 1862 Josiah Forster IV (1782-1870) and his wife conveyed four recently built cottages and £500 stock to William Edward Forster MP and others to belong to the Tottenham Monthly Meeting. Josiah Forster was active in the antislavery movement and William Edward Forster (1818-86) was MP for Bradford and a member of Gladstone's Cabinet, responsible for the 1870 Elementary Education Act. His father William (1784-1854) was a Quaker minister from Tottenham and Bristol who worked as a missionary and lobbied for the antislavery movement in USA.

The almshouses were to be maintained by the Trustees for four Tottenham residents, not necessarily Quakers, giving preference to widows or spinsters aged at least 55. Each resident was to have half a ton of coal a year but was expected to have some personal resources. Under a scheme of 1955 Friends Trusts Ltd became custodian trustees, later transferring to Family Welfare Association in the 1990s and then to the Anchor Trust and continues as sheltered homes for the elderly.

The cottages have a communal front garden now separated from the road by a brick wall, although old photographs show this was a wooden picket fence in 1900, and metal railings in 1907. To the right and part of the back boundary is close-boarded fencing, the rest of the boundary brick. Two gates lead to the front garden from the street, with a 6 ft gate leading into the back garden. A plaque over the central doorway has the words 'Forster's Cottages 18 J & R 60'. The front garden has functional path, flower beds and shrubs, with a rectangle of grass behind the houses, with a 3ft wide bed planted with hellebores, bulbs, perennials and wallflowers. The front garden was replanted in 1988 and has flowers including wallflowers and perennials, shaped evergreen bushes and shrubs in mixed planting including privet, forsythia, pyracantha trained on the fence and a large climbing rose trained on the back wall.

Sources consulted:

Clive Berridge, Almshouses of London, 1987; Victoria County History vol V, 1976 pp376-80; Mrs R Collie, Quakers of Tottenham 1775-1825 (Edmonton Hundred Historical Society Occasional Papers 37); F Fisk 'History of the Ancient Parish of Tottenham' 1923 (Bruce Castle Archive); Theodore Compton 'Recollections of Tottenham, Tottenham Friends and the Forster Family (Bruce Castle Archives); Mrs J W Couchman 'Reminiscences of Tottenham' (Bruce Castle Archives).

LPGT Volunteer Research by Jenny Turner, 2005

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ335896 (533440,189580)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Anchor Trust
Site management:
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.