Historic Buildings Trust was set up in 1999 to raise funds
for the repair and conservation of Boone’s Chapel, a grade I listed building, then on the English Heritage "Buildings at Risk" register. It is a
Boone’s Chapel was the Trust's first project. The Chapel is a
single-storey rectangular building of just 45 square metres.
Although it is tiny in plan, the design of the exterior is grand, combining
fine brickwork with detailing in Portland stone under a complex,
pyramidal roof topped by a cupola. It occupies a prominent
corner of the Merchant Taylors’ Company almshouses site on Lee
High Road in Lewisham.
The original almshouses
and chapel were commissioned by Christopher Boone, a London
merchant and, like Sir Christopher Wren, a member of the
Merchant Taylors’ Company, and built in 1683. Income from the
Boone family estate in Herefordshire helped provide relief for
the elderly poor of Lee and for the education of 12 poor
children. The original row of almshouses stood next to the
Chapel facing directly on to Lee High Road. These almshouses
were demolished in 1875 but a U-shaped block, dating from 1825
and listed Grade II, remains further up the hill. After
demolition of the original almshouses, the Chapel continued to
function as a reading room, but fell into disuse after 1945.
It is likely that Wren
was commissioned to build the Chapel and almshouses but the work
was probably carried out by Robert Hooke, a close friend and
colleague and another member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Hooke is best known for advising Wren in the re-building of the City of London after the Great Fire and in the designing of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
The Chapel has now been fully restored - the success of this project was due to the Blackheath Historic Buildings Trust, the energy of its then Chairman, Sir Ian Mills and his colleagues, funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the London Borough of Lewisham, various livery and other companies and also the support of many local residents, together with the Lee Manor and Blackheath Societies.
The Trust has also completed two stages of a new Lee Heritage Trail. Seven panels are in place, and the Lee Manor Society also has a panel at Lee Green which complements the panels erected by the Trust. The Trust is now working on further trails in the Greenwich, Westcombe Park and Blackheath areas.
The Trust has also undertaken the first stage of work to repair and conserve the Old Churchyard, opposite the present St. Margaret's Church, Lee Terrace, transforming it into a public park and teaching and cultural site for the use of local residents, schools and other interested groups. This involved repairing and making safe the mediaeval tower and improving the landscape of the site to make it worthy of its 18th and 19th century monuments. The repair, conservation and restoration of the monuments and gravestones remains to be tackled.
Bridget Prentice (Chair)
Tim Barnes QC
The Blackheath Historic Buildings Trust
10 Blackheath Village
London SE3 9LE
Tel: 020 8318 2711
Registered Office: Chapman House, 10 Blackheath Village, SE3 9LE
Registered number: 3788710
Charity number: 1078787