Exploring Southwark and discovering its history
The Helen Peele Memorial Almshouses form a terrace of 7 one-bedroom cottages set at right angles to Lower Road in Rotherhithe. They have distinctive bright red doors and face onto a well maintained landscaped garden. Managed by Hanover Housing Association, applications are accepted from the over 55s when a rare vacancy occurs. They were built in 1902 by the terms of the will of Charles John Peele, a director at the large local factory Brandram Brothers*, to the memory of his mother who had died in 1890 aged 68 in Chertsey. Charles himself died six years later aged only 45 and while he too died in Chertsey, clearly felt a link and a social conscience to the area where his business was based.
The Peele family connection continued after Charles’ death. In the same year the cottages were built, one of the executors to his will and probably his son, the Rev. Henry Evan Brandram Peele, came to Rotherhithe having previously served in Bermondsey and Lowestoft. He worked mainly in the St Paul’s district at the northern tip of the Rotherhithe peninsula, close to Globe Wharf. St Paul’s was never a parish in its own right but a chapel at ease to St Mary’s. Built in 1850, the church was destroyed in World War II though records suggest there may have been temporary accommodation that housed the congregation. The site was sold to the GLC in 1968 and is occupied today by Peter Hills with St Mary’s and St Paul’s Church of England Primary School.
*Brandram Wharf, Brandam Brothers' warehouse in Rotherhithe Street, still survives and has been coverted into apartments.