It was founded by philanthropist Sir John Morden in 1695 as a home for 'poor Merchants... and such as have lost their Estates by accidents, dangers and perils of the seas or by any other accidents ways or means in their honest endeavours to get their living by means of Merchandizing.'
Morden College was built (to a design sometimes attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, but largely carried out by Edward Strong, his master mason) on the north-east corner of the Wricklemarsh estate. It was described by Daniel Lysons in Environs of London (1796):
It is a spacious brick structure, with stone coins and cornices, forming a quadrangle, which is surrounded by piazzas. Over the front are the statues of Sir John Morden and his lady. In the hall are their portraits, and that of Queen Anne. In the chapel are the arms of Sir John and Lady Morden, and a record of benefactions to the College since the founder's death.
Turkey Company Period (1708 - 1826)
Sir John Morden placed twelve decayed Turkey merchants in this College in his lifetime. He died in 1708, having by his will, bearing date 1702, endowed the College, after the death of his lady, with estates which are now about 1600l. per annum. Lady Morden, finding her income not sufficient to continue her husband's bounty to twelve merchants, was obliged, during her life, to reduce the number to four. She died in 1721, when the whole estate fell in to the College. The pensioners must be upwards of 50 years of age, bachelors or widowers, and members of the church of England; their pension is 40s. per month. There are commodious apartments for 30, which number, if any vacancies have happened, is filled up once a-year. The College is under the government of seven trustees of the Company of Turkey Merchants, who elect the pensioners.
Subsequent donations to the college by prominent Turkey merchants and their wives helped assure that the college would survive. Lysons recorded those donors and the totals of their gifts:
|Year||Person||Value of gift|
|1723||Sir Charles Cooke||£100|
|1729||Sir Peter Delmé||£100|
|1751||William Hanger, Esq||£100|
|1751||Richard Chiswell, Esq||£100|
|1752||Thomas Cooke, Esq||£114|
|1764||Francis Levett, Esq||£200|
|1772||Richard Chiswell, Esq||£200|
|1774||Richard Pyke, Esq||£1000|
|1774||John March, Esq||£500|
|1775||Sir Gregory Page||£300|
|1788||John Jamet, Esq||£50|
East India Company Period (1827 - 1884)
Court of Aldermen of the City of London Period (1884 - )
During the 20th century, admission requirements were amended so that the college could accommodate women and married couples, and several new buildings were added. The College also manages other homes in Blackheath and in Beckenham. Today, it functions as a retirement home.
Other key people
- AIM25, Archives in London and the M25 Area
- From: 'Charlton', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 324-42. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45480. Date accessed: 3 October 2007.
- Morden College 19, Greenwich, http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-396192-morden-college-19-greenwich. Date accessed: 21 October 2011)
- Joyce, Patrick (1982). The History of Morden College, Blackheath, 1695 to the Present. Gresham Books. ISBN 0-905418-91-3.
- Francis Levett of Nethersole, Kent, was born in London to English trader Francis Levett (merchant). Francis Levett Jr. was chief representative of the Levant Company at Constantinople 1737–1750 and a director of the London Assurance Corporation. He lived much of his life at Livorno, Italy, and died at Nethersole 21 February 1764.