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Morden College

Morden College


Reference code(s): GB 2227

Held at: Morden College

Title: Morden College

Date(s): 1695-2010

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 150 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Morden | Sir | John | 1623-1708 | merchant
Morden College | Blackheath | 1695-


Administrative/Biographical history:

Morden College was founded in 1695 by Sir John Morden (1623-1708).

John Morden was born in London, 1623, the son of George Morden, goldsmith. In 1643, he was apprenticed to Sir William Soames who was Master of the Grocers' Company, Levant Company (Turkey Company) assistant, East India Company Committee member, and Sheriff of the City of London. Initially posted to Aleppo in Turkey, John Morden returned to London in 1660 having amassed a 'fair estate' trading as an East India Merchant. In 1662 he married Susan Brand (1638-1721) daughter of Joseph Brand of Suffolk. The couple were childless.
By the 1660s Morden was a member of the board of both the Turkey Company and the East India Company. In 1669 he purchased for 4 200 Wricklemarsh Manor (now the Cator estate) in Blackheath, which comprised 271 acres and a mansion house.
Created a baronet in 1688 by King James II, in 1691 he became Commissioner of Excise under King William III. He was briefly the Member of Parliament for Colchester. In 1693, he was appointed Treasurer of Bromley College, Kent, a home for clergy widows. In 1695, he resigned this appointment to become Treasurer of his own College.

Morden's aim was to found a college 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'.

The College Buildings were erected in 1695 in the style of Christopher Wren and under the supervision of his Master-mason, Edward Strong, on the north east corner of the Wricklemarsh Estate. They were intended to house forty single or widowed men, who were each given an allowance of 40 per annum, coals and a gown (and servants to look after their apartments). There was also a public kitchen, a dining hall, and an apartment for a chaplain with a salary of 50 shillings a year. The College had its own burial ground. Until 1867 members had to be members of the Church of England, with a certificate of proof from their parish priest. They were required to attend chapel twice daily.

By 1881, admission requirements had relaxed somewhat. After World War One, a shortage of 'decayed merchants' led to further changes to membership conditions and the College now provides accommodation for women (as non resident out pensioners since 1908, and residents since 1966) and married couples (since 1951). Since 1700 more than 4,648 people have been College beneficiaries. Provision is also made for a group known as outpensioners, who do not require accommodation, but are in financial need.

Terms of administration: Sir John Morden's will provided for seven trustees, to be chosen from the Turkey Company; on its cessation from the East India Company, and on its demise, from the Aldermen of the City of London with ultimate recourse to 'gentlemen of Kent'. Day to day administration was in the hands of a Treasurer and a Chaplain. In 1945, the Treasurer's post was renamed Clerk to the Trustees. The College is funded by endowment of the Manor of Old Court (Greenwich) purchased by Sir John in 1698. The Dame Susan Morden endowment contributed funds originally for the support of the chaplain.

A new Dining Hall was completed in 1845, and a Library in 1860. A Nursing Centre, Cullum Welch Court, was opened in 1971, rebuilt 2004, providing beds for residents requiring nursing care. Premises built in 1933 for use as a Sick Bay were refurbished and opened as a Club House in 1971, and further enlarged in 1990. The Staff Quarters added to the old Sick Bay in 1958, are still used for their original purpose. A number of other homes have been built within the grounds, including Alexander Court, 1957, Wells Court, 1966, and Montague Graham Court, 1976. In 1994, a house adjacent to the College, 22 Kidbrooke Gardens, was refurbished and opened for use by College beneficiaries. A number of other homes in Blackheath and Beckenham now form part of the College, and are located in Broadbridge Close, Graham Court in Kidbrooke Grove, St Germans Place, Vanbrugh Park and Ralph Perring Court.

Charles Kelsall (1782-1857) bequest: book collection, pictures, maps, papers


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Morden College comprising:

Minutes of the Trustees of Morden College, 1708-date and various ancillary papers; Trustees' annual reports, 1940-1988; Chaplain's reports, 1854-1983; Medical Officers' reports, 1932-1939, 1952-1983.

Records relating to membership of the College (including residents and outpensioners: Registers, 1700-1952; personal papers c.1800-1930 (incomplete); personal files c.1930-date.

Legal documents including letters patent to Sir John Morden for the Manor of Old Court, and related trust deeds, 1699; transcripts and probate of the Will of Sir John Morden, 1702/1708; deeds of appointment of Trustees, 1712-1865; leases of College property 1700-date; Attorney-General v Lubbock and others, 1831-1836; Attorney General v Thomas M Weguelin and others (Trustees of Morden College) relating to the Charity Commission and appointment of Trustees, 1879-1880.

Financial records including annual accounts 1708-date (incomplete); rent books (chiefly 20th century); certain tax and tithe papers; investments, 1807-1898; bequests, 1709-1995; endowment funds, 1809-1917; surveyors' accounts, 1770-1914; solicitors' accounts, 1770-1910.

Administrative papers including Rules and Orders 1700-1947; correspondence with the Charity Commission, 1870-date; files relating to staff: Treasurer/Clerk to the Trustees, 1782-1976, Chaplains, 1842-1892, Medical Officers, 1742-2000, and others; buildings maintenance, 1810-date; artefacts owned by the College; amenities provided for residents.

Records relating to the Chapel including: Chaplains, 1707-1991; Registers of Services, 1916-1990; burials; pew rents; miscellaneous service sheets.

Records relating to the College history including: Historical notes for lecture on Morden College by Reginald Saw [1962]; The Manor of Old Court: an historical account by Reginald Saw, 1961; Morden College: the title deeds of the trustees from 1708-1853 (abstracts) by Reginald Saw, 1962; The Wricklemarsh Estate: summary of deeds and documents by Reginald Saw, 1959; Morden College 1700-1901, H L Hall [1910].

College publications include Morden College Newsletter (weekly newsletter for residents) 1975-date; Ralph Perring Court, Beckenham, Newsletter (monthly newsletter for residents), 1999-date. See also Allied Materials (below).

Photograph collection, 1865-date, includes photographs of College events, artefacts, places (building exteriors, interiors and grounds), people (trustees, chaplains, visitors, members, staff); photograph albums, 1913-date.

Scrapbooks of ephemera: advertisements and other news cuttings, 1823-1981; scrapbook including 'In memoriam' cards, visiting and trade cards, newscuttings, 1850-1900; scrapbook of obituaries, photographs, newscuttings, 1932-1972; scrapbook 'Life in the College', 1954-1959; L & M Baker's Morden College Library scrapbook of programmes and news cuttings.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment only. Contact the College Archivist and Librarian, 19 St Germans Place, Blackheath, London SE3 0PW. Material containing personal information relating to living individuals is subject to the regulations of the Data Protection Act 1998. Administrative records less than thirty years old are closed.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies available subject to the condition of the original.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Database index located in the archive.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Collected and held in situ by the College


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Some records relating to Morden College are held at the Greenwich Heritage Centre, Artillery Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich SE18 4DX.

Publication note:

Morden College: a brief guide, Seventh edition, 2006; Patronage and poverty in merchant society: the history of Morden College, Blackheath, 1695 to the present by Patrick Joyce, Gresham Books in association with the Trustees of Morden College, Henley-on-Thames, 1982; Princess Aelfrida's Charity (the reputed Manor of Old Court, Greenwich) by Henry Lansdell, Burnside, London, 1911-1916; Morden College, Blackheath by T Frank Green, 10th monograph of the London Survey Committee, 1916.



website address:

Archivist's note: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; Morden College, a brief guide. Seventh edition, 2006; Patronage and poverty in merchant society, the history of Morden College, 1695 to the present, Patrick Joyce, Gresham Books in association with the Trustees of Morden College, Henley-on-Thames, 1982. Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: October, 2003.

Elderly | Disadvantaged groups
Pensions | Social security | Social services
Retirement | Personnel management | Organization and administration | Health services administration | Public administration | Government

Personal names
Morden | Sir | John | 1623-1708 | merchant and founder of Morden College

Corporate names
Morden College | Blackheath | 1695-

Greenwich | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe