Brief History:

Construction of Morden College began in 1695. It opened in 1700 for the benefit of poor, elderly merchants of good character who were either bachelors or widowers and who had failed in business through no particular fault of their own. Since that time, the qualifications for entry have been widened. They now include men or women of good character who have either been engaged in a trade, business or a profession as principals, or reached a position of authority or seniority in employment and who, through accident, misfortune, disability, or infirmity have been prevented from continuing to follow their former calling and are in reduced material circumstances. The qualifications also include the spouses, widows and widowers and the dependent children of such men and women.

The Trustees are also empowered to provide assistance by way of grants and outpensions to those in need and who qualify under the Trust Deed and who do not wish to apply to the Charity for accommodation. Donations may also be made to other Charities that provide services or facilities which may assist our beneficiaries.


Our Founder – Sir John Morden, Bt:

John Morden was born in London in 1623, his father, a Citizen and Goldsmith of London, died when he was just twelve months old, leaving him £450 to be given to him on his 21st birthday. John Morden was later to become a member of the Levant Company and also the East India Company.

He married Susan Brand, the daughter of Joseph Brand, JP of Edwardstone in Suffolk possibly for financial rather than romantic reasons - Susan's brother-in-law, Sir Samuel Barnardiston Bt, came from a family closely connected to the Levant trade and was later made Deputy Governor of the East India Company. In 1669, he bought the Wricklemarsh Estate (now the Cator Estate) of 271 acres in Blackheath for £4,200.

In 1688 he was created Sir John Morden Bt by King James II and in 1691 he was made Commissioner of Excise under William III becoming, four years later, the Whig representative for Colchester. In 1693 he was appointed Treasurer of Bromley College, Kent, a home for widows of the clergy and, two years later, he resigned his appointment to become treasurer of his own college which he had started to build in Blackheath.

Sir John left stringent instructions in his Will as to the future administration of Morden College. The first Trustees were to be chosen from the Turkey Company; if that Company should fail, the responsibility of administration was to pass to the East India Company and from there to the Aldermen of the City of London. Then, in the unlikely event of the Court of Aldermen failing, to "seven ... discreet and grave ...gentlemen of the County of Kent". From 1885 to this day the Trustees of the College have been appointed while serving as Aldermen, just as Sir John had instructed.


Items From Past:

The Fire Engine:

Was presented by Trustee Richard Chiswell in 1751.No fire at Morden College has needed its services, but it is understood that it was useful in dowsing hayricks of neighbouring farmers.


The Edwardstone Bell:

The cracked bell from Edwardstone Church, where Dame Susan worshipped as a child, was brought to Morden College in 1987. An inscription beneath the reads: "This tenor bell was given on permanent loan to Morden College in 1987...The bell, made in about 1712, was eventually broken by continuous striking of the clapper against the lip and was replaced in 1986 by the trustees of Morden College as a token of the close ties that exist between the College and the people of Edwardstone."


The Sundial:

The College Minute Book records a note on the accuracy of the sundial overlooking the Quadrangle,on 17 May, 1725: 'And that there be a Sun Dyall set up for Keeping the Clock right which often goes wrong." The motto, inscribed above the benign face of the sun reads "Sic umbra, sic vita" (As a shadow, so is life).

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