Sunday, October 11, 2015

Heritage in Danger? The Peter Hills Charity School

I went on an organized walking tour of Rotherhithe recently, with 10 other people, all of whom were new to the area.  Our tour leader,  Ken Titmuss, took us to all of the main sites in Rotherhithe Village and Lower Road, and of course we visited the famous Peter Hills Charity School.  The school is one of the jewels in Rotherhithe's crown.  Or it was.

Peter Hills was a seafarer, Master Mariner and Brother of Trinity House, a substantial and influential individual, interested in the welfare of the community.  The Peter Hills charity school was established in 1613 for the children of local sea-men, a remarkable act of social conscience and good will.  Its original home no longer stands but it was moved in 1795 to today's 70 St Mary Rotherhithe Street, a former residence that dates to the early 1700s.  I have covered the school on a previous post if you want to know more about its history.  The school was furnished with two statues at first floor level, a boy and a girl dressed in the school's uniform.  The two statues remain today.

Unfortunately, the statues and the rest of the building are rapidly deteriorating as the photographs show.  The ground floor windows are boarded up, the paintwork on the statues is peeling, leaving the underlying material exposed to the elements, some of the masonry is damaged, and the woodwork is decaying rapidly.

Does anyone know if anything is being done about this?  If there is a plan for its renovation?  The neighbouring rectory is being redeveloped, I am told sympathetically, for housing, and it would be nice to think that the Charity School building will also be cared for now that it is in desperate need of assistance.

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