Trinity Green Almshouses, Mile End Road, E1 4TS
Built in 1695 these are the oldest Almshouses in central London. While the architect of the building is unconfirmed – some say Christopher Wren, others William Ogbourne – the intention was clear, the circle of stone between the windows decrees, “THIS ALMES HOUSE wherein twenty-eight decay’d Masters & Commanders of Ships, or ye Widows of such are maintain’d, was built by ye CORP. of TRINITY HOUSE, ano 1695.” In short, it was for retired sailors or their widows to be looked after within.
Interestingly, it was the first building to go on the Preservation Register which is now known as the Listed Buildings schedule. So, it was the first listed building ever.
It was damaged in the Blitz and carefully restored in the 1950s.
Things to note: look up on either side of the entrance buildings and you will see two small ships, a nod to the inhabitants former employment.
Best nearby: Get a coffee or a cocktail from Genesis Cinema’s front cafe, or a tasty meal at Chicken Shop
Cambridge Heath Road, nearest tube Bethnal Green
This out-post of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington hosts a collection of toys, machines and memorabilia from British childhoods across the ages. While this collection itself is worth a visit, the building that houses these marvels deserves a bit of attention.
Originally built in Kensington 1856-7 to make part of the nicknamed ‘Albertopolis” complex of museums around Exhibition Road it relocated to Bethnal Green and was opened in 1872.
Walk around the perimeter of the building to see the mosaic panels which represent agriculture, arts and sciences. These panels were assembled by the female students of the South Kensington Museum’s mosaic class. Evidence of female artistry is also evident inside the building where the decorative pattern (called ‘guilloche’) was apparently made by female inmates of the Woking Gaol.
Best cafe nearby: Gallery Cafe. St. Margarets House, 21 Old Ford Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PL
Best bar nearby: Satan’s Whiskers. 343 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9RA.