Inventory Site Record

Lady Mico's Almshouses

Lady Mico's Almshouses (Tower Hamlets)

Brief Description

Lady Jane Mico's Almshouses were originally built near St Dunstan's Church in 1691 by the Mercers' Company, following a bequest of 1670 by the wife of Mercer and Alderman Sir Samuel Mercer. Her endowment was to house 10 poor widows of London of 50 years and older. In 1965 the Mercers' Company began plans to rebuild new almshouses nearby under an agreement with the GLC, who took over responsibility for the original cottages. The new almshouses opened here in 1976, comprising 18 flats, with a communal courtyard garden with raised flower beds. All the flats have a garden patio or balcony, and window boxes.

Practical Information
Site location:
Aylward Street, Stepney
E1 0PB
Type of site:
Private Garden
Tower Hamlets
Open to public?
Opening times:
Has opened for OGSW. Otherwise private, for residents only Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend in the past.
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Stepney Green (District, Hammersmith & City). DLR: Limehouse. Bus: 15, 115, 135

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Lady Jane Mico's Almshouses were originally built in 1691 adjacent to St Dunstan's Church in Stepney by the Mercers' Company. Lady Jane was the wife of Sir Samuel Mico, an Alderman and Mercer who had died in 1666 leaving most of his estate to her. In 1670 Lady Jane bequeathed £1,500 to the Mercers' Company for the purpose of building almshouses to house 10 poor widows of London of 50 years and over, which the Mercers' took to mean widows of Freemen of the City of London. The almshouses were not built immediately since this sum was insufficient for the purpose and the capital was placed with the Mercers' Company to accrue interest. Eventually after 20 years it had increased to £2,900 and in 1690 the Mercers' Company then proceeded to erect the row of 10 cottages near St Dunstan's Church on land was owned by St Paul's School Estate, which the Mercers' Company also managed. When the almshouses were completed, the balance of the Lady Mico's bequest remained at interest with the Company and produced £88 per year, £80 of which was paid to the residents of the almshouses. However, the small balance was insufficient for carrying out any repairs to the buildings, and as a consequence this was subsidised by the Company, who by the early 1850s were paying £300 a year. In 1856 the almshouses were rebuilt to designs by George Smith, surveyor to the Mercers' Company. During WWII the almshouses suffered bomb damage but were restored in 1951.

In 1965 the Company had plans to further improve the cottages but, unable to do so due to GLC plans for increasing public open space provision in the neighbourhood, the decision was taken to build new almshouses in Stepney. The GLC offered the Company a site at the junction of Aylward Street and West Arbour Street, where it was building new housing. Agreement was reached that an increased number of new almshouses would be designed and built by the GLC on behalf of the Mercers' Company, and that when they were completed the old almshouses would be conveyed to the GLC in part exchange. The new almshouses were handed over to the Company on 21 January 1976. There are 18 flats, including one for a Matron and one for a resident confined to a wheelchair, together with a guest room, launderette, clubroom and a private courtyard garden, with raised flowerbeds. All the flats have a garden patio or balcony, and window boxes. The criteria for entry are that residents must be single women, resident in London, with priority given to widows living in Stepney. On the exterior of the building is a plaque from the original almshouses, commemorating Lady Jane Mico's original almshouses of 1691.

Sources consulted:

See 'Lady Jane Mico and her Almshouse Trust' via Mercers Company website

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Mercers' Company
Site management:
Mercers' Company as trustee of the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington
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:

Lady Mico's Almshouses

Plaque on exterior of Lady Mico's Almshouses, June 2009. Photo: S Williams

Click a photo to enlarge.

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