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Statue, monument and tomb

There is a statue of Sir Robert Geffrye on the building, a monument in the chapel, a sign on the gatepost and he is buried in the Ironmongers' Graveyard.

Statue

In a niche above the chapel door

A statue of Robert Geffrye currently stands in the niche above the doorway to the chapel, in the centre of the Almshouses' main range.

The original statue, by Flemish sculptor John van Nost, was placed to commemorate Geffrye's legacy in providing the funds for the almshouses. The buildings were completed in 1714, the statue was placed in 1724.

In 1912, the almshouse pensioners moved to a new site in Mottingham, Kent and the Ironmongers' Company took the original statue of Robert Geffrye with them.

The replica statue of Geffrye you see today, was installed to replace the original in 1912 before the building opened as a museum in 1914.

More research is needed on how and why the replica statue was commissioned, although it is assumed that is was erected to preserve the look of the building and gardens.

Building plaque

Central gate

There is a plaque located on a pillar to the left hand side of the central gate of the Kingsland Road Gardens, presumably erected in 1914.

The plaque reads (including additional script added by a member of the public in June 2020):

These buildings, sometime the Ironmongers Almshouses, were erected about 1715 under a bequest by Sir Robert Geffrye [who stole his wealth by selling slaves], Lord Mayor of London in 1686. In 1910 the buildings and land about them were bought by the London County Council aided by the Shoreditch Metropolitan Borough Council and many private persons. The garden was opened to the public in 1912. The buildings were adapted to serve as a museum and opened in 1914.

Funerary monument

Almshouse chapel

There is a funerary monument dedicated to Robert Geffrye and his wife Priscilla, located in the chapel.

The monument, by Richard Saunders, was originally erected in 1704 in St Dionis, Backchurch. It was moved to the almshouses upon the demolition of the church in 1878.

The monument was then removed by the Ironmongers' Company in either 1913 or 1922 for installation at their new premises in Kent.

In 1976, the Museum received funding to relocate the monument to the chapel on the grounds of 'making an important piece of monumental sculpture once more accessible to the public.' It appears it was too large for the new Ironmongers' Company almshouses in Hook, Hampshire. The Ironmongers' Company offered the Museum the monument as an indefinite loan, later agreed as a permanent loan.

The monument reads:

In the Chancell is Interd y Body of Sr Robert Geffery Knt & Lord Majr. Of this City of Ldn, President of y Hospitalls of Bridwell & Bethlem. An Excellent Magistrate & of exemplary Chirity, Virtue and Goodness, who departed this life the 26th day of Feby 1703 and in the 91st year of his age. And also the Body of Dame Priscilla his wife, daughter of Luke Cropley Esqr who deceased y 26th of Octobr 1676 and in the 43rd Year of Her Age.

A conservation treatment report from 2011 states that the monument is set into the chapel wall. It is likely that removing it would cause considerable damage to the finish of the wall.

Tombs of Robert and Priscilla Geffrye

Ironmongers' Graveyard

The north-west corner of the Kingsland Road Gardens houses the Ironmongers' Graveyard. It contains several graves of people associated with the Ironmongers' Company, and the large granite tombs of Robert and Priscilla Geffrye, which were relocated here from St Dionis, Backchurch, when it was demolished in 1878.

Other graves belong to:

  • Thomas Betton, merchant and Ironmonger, d. 1724
  • Mrs Mary Cook, widow of an Ironmonger, d. 1747 and her daughter
  • Rev. William Hesse, chaplin to the almhouses d.1792
  • Mrs Marie Chapman, matron to the almshouses, d. 1840