It is the wrought iron gates, melted down by the man charged with restoring them, in what an English Heritage spokesman called in 2007, ‘a clear case of cultural vandalism’, which shone a spotlight on these almshouses over fifteen years ago.
The comments were added to by the then Haringey Council Cabinet Member for regeneration and enterprise, Cllr. Kaushika Amin, ‘This individual has authorised the destruction of an important part of Haringey’s past and we won’t ever be able to get it back’. These newspaper accounts, in December 2007 editions of the Hornsey Journal and the Ham & High, came to the Archive as part of the Ken Gay Bequest.
The initial charity was that of Judge John Fuller who built almshouses in Old Street, Shoreditch, c.1605, at the start of King James I’s reign. These were rebuilt in 1787 and later sold and demolished to make way for new buildings; hence the move to Bowes Park in 1866. The new almshouses, were built in Gothic style. They were later incorporated into the United Charities of St Leonard’s Shoreditch which, in 1904, rebuilt the whole site providing an accommodation for 12 women; St Leonard’s House for four married couples and the Porter and Walter’s Almshouses for 16 women, all designed by Alfred Cross. They were renovated and reopened following improvements in 1962. The buildings were awarded Grade II listed status in 1974, including the iron gates and railings. Hence the furore in 2007 when it was found that they had been melted down. The original foundation stone from Shoreditch is kept in the grounds.
Hornsey Historical Society