Inventory Site Record

Metropolitan Benefit Societies Almshouses (Islington)

Brief Description

The Metropolitan Benefit Societies' Almshouses are the last remaining almshouses of five foundations that were established in Balls Pond Road and King Henry's Walk in the early C19th. It was originally founded as the Metropolitan Benefit Societies' Asylum in 1829 although it was not until 1836 that the first stone of the north block was laid by the Lord Mayor of London. East and west wings were added c.1865/6 and the buildings form three sides of the garden quadrangle, laid out with grass, with a number of trees and roses.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Metropolitan Benefit Societies' Asylum
Site location:
Balls Pond Road
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
London Overground: Dalston Kingsland, Dalston Junction. Bus: 30, 38, 56, 277, 141
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Originally known as the Metropolitan Benefit Societies' Asylum, this is the last remaining almshouse garden of the five foundations that were established in Balls Pond Road and King Henry's Walk in the early C19th. The Metropolitan Benefit Societies' Asylum was founded by John Christopher Bowles in 1829 although it was not until some years later that the first stone was laid by the Lord Mayor of London, the Rt Hon William Taylor Copeland MP on 17 August 1836, which was the birthday of its patroness, the Duchess of Kent. The 2-storey Tudor -style north block of 1836 was designed by S H Ridley, and the east and west wings were added c.1865-6. The buildings are on three sides of a large quadrangle, the west wing named after Mary Ann Mackenzie (d.1861) who left £9,000 to the charity. The central meeting hall, formerly the chapel, was rebuilt in 1931 and has in recent years been used by a Pentecostal church choir.

The garden consists of a grassed court, with trees and roses, and an oval tarmaced carriage sweep with dwarf coped and stuccoed walls. The square brick coped gate piers have in recent years been rebuilt and have Gothic pattern cast iron railings.

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Clive Berridge, The Almshouses of London (Ashford Press Publishing, Southampton), 1987; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ331848 (533160,184840)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Anchor Trust
Site management:
Anchor Trust
Listed structures:
LBII: Metropolitan Benefit Societies Almshouses and attached railings to Balls Pond Road boundary
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:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Shopping Policy Area

Metropolitan Benefit Societies Almshouses

Metropolitan Benefit Societies Almshouses - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 31/03/21 11:19

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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.