Trinity Village, formerly known as The Newington Estate, was given to the Corporation of Trinity House in 1660. Mr Christopher Merrick conveyed the estate in trust to the Corporation, in return for seven years’ worth of rent – amounting to £1,694.
Christopher Merrick’s father had the estate after the Bostock family, who had taken ownership during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and were the first owners recorded as holding a complete parcel of land. Up until that time, various parts of the estate had belonged to different owners - including St Thomas’s Hospital.
Christopher Merrick, a merchant, became a Younger Brother of the Corporation in 1660; his vision for the estate trust was “for Relieving, Comforting, Easing & Maintaining of the Poor Aged Sick Maimed Weak and Decayed Seamen and Mariners of this Kingdom, their Wives Children and Widowes where most need was.”
As was customary at the time, dinner with the Corporation and six bottles of fine wine acknowledged Mr Merrick’s generous gift, and aimed to ‘encourage’ a further gift of property through his will. However it was not to be, and since the time of Mr Merrick’s legacy, the area of Trinity Village has remained (give or take the odd sale or purchase) as it was then.
The Newington Estate originally consisted of commercial land without residential buildings, all of which came later through a series of development projects. Instead the land was used for grazing and agriculture, with fruit trees along Harper Road (then known as Horsemonger Lane) and for crops of kale, mint and horseradish between Harper Road and Great Dover Street.
It was also known for its tavern businesses, including the Swan Inn and brewery at Swan Street, and for the stables at Cole Street which supplied the horse fairs at Horsemonger Lane: “providing mares for Flanders”.
Eventually the estate began to be developed for residential property, starting with Trinity Street in 1813 (formerly known as Great Suffolk Street East), Trinity Church and Trinity Square; while Swan Street and Cole Street were developed between 1820 and 1830. It wasn’t until building was completed across the village that the owners were granted permission to undertake the paving, lighting and general cleaning of the streets.
The properties themselves were built in the style of the later Georgian period with their distinctive exteriors and neo-classical features. Although there was never an overall vision for the village, the various builders involved in the development were required to have plans approved by the Corporation so that the style of the houses remained consistent.
From the mid-1800s into the early 1900s, much of the property in the village continued to be used for industrial purposes, although the Corporation were clear that newly built properties should be designed as homes.
Famous examples of businesses in the village are Lazenby’s pickle factory (1861-1926) and the Surrey Dispensary which moved into number 32 Falmouth Road from Great Dover Street in 1927.
Trinity Village was granted official status as a conservation area in the 1960s, and to this day continues to reflect the old heart of London with its beautiful architecture and green squares.
Mr Merrick’s vision: ‘“for Relieving, Comforting, Easing & Maintaining of the Poor Aged Sick Maimed Weak and Decayed Seamen and Mariners of this Kingdom, their Wives Children and Widowes where most need was.’”
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Registered charity in England and Wales under charity registration number 211869.
Registered office: Trinity House, Tower Hill, London, EC3N 4DH.