Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.
I used to think that this little 18h century house was the sole survivor in an area which relatively recently as become uber fashionable.
[I]t was not long ago that the developers of Richard Rogers’ popular non-dom development had a large advert displayed on its windows informing us of the bargain on offer that was available at only £1.5 million for a small apartment next door to Tate Modern.
The attempt at gentrification has been on-going since before World War II. Hopton Street was originally named Holland Street said to refer to a brothel kept by Sarah Holland at the old Paris Gardens Manor House, its site also undergoing large scale gentrification.
So this quaint 1703 house built by James Price originally standing on a street named Green Walk went from 9 Green Walk to Holland Street, then to ease sensibilities the street was re-named after Hopton’s Charity and not a brothel owner, thus our little survivor became 61 Holland Street while all around it great 21st century monoliths were being constructed.
A short walk from 61 Hopton Street stands the almshouses that modern Hopton Street derives its name.
In 1752 a wealthy fishmonger (you’d by hard pressed to find one these days), Charles Hopton set up a trust. Unmarried and dying in 1731 he left the bulk of his estate to his sister, and upon her death, the trust reverted to the setting up of the establishment of almshouses that carry his name. Built for 26 poor men with the proviso they receive an annual stipend of £6 per year and a chaldron of coals (roughly equal to what a horse and cart could carry) for the rest of their days.
The almshouses remained virtually untouched until German bombs destroyed four cottages and damaged a further three. Redevelopment added a communal kitchen and common room for men and their wives `who have lived or worked in Southwark for 3 years.*
The almshouses have stood the test of time and still occupy the same plot of land they did 250 years ago, providing accommodation that Hopton envisaged all those years ago.
*While writing this it occurred to me that I’m eligible to become a resident and receive my chaldron of coal, having worked in nearby Lavington Street in the 1970s.