The Girdlers’ almshouses owe their existence to bequests made to the Company in 1582 by Past Master Cuthbert Beeston, and in 1610 by Past Master George Palyn. Cuthbert Beeston’s Will left seven houses near London Bridge on charitable trusts; when these were sold in 1834, the proceeds were used to build a two-storey almshouse block in Consort Road, Peckham, which still survives.
Money left to the Company in George Palyn's Will paid for almshouses to be built in Finsbury. However, having become dilapidated, they were replaced in 1852 by new almshouses in Montpelier Road, Peckham.
The Company thus ended up with two blocks of almshouses near to each other in Peckham, and by 1961 both were in need of restoration. The legal framework also separated the two - at that time the almshouses were supported by ten individual charitable trusts, all having similar objects. However, following a number of amalgamations and rebuildings, the almshouses have been consolidated on the Consort Road site since 1980, where 18 units provide accommodation for over 20 residents. The residents are expected to live independently, looking after themselves - if necessary, with the help of outside agencies. The Company employs an Almshouse Manager to look after the buildings and grounds, to act as a good neighbour to each of the residents, and to report at regular intervals to the Company's Almshouse Committee, which oversees all aspects of the almshouses.
The charity maintains a list of applicants from which the Trustee selects new residents when there is an occasional vacancy. The Charity Commission Scheme governing the Charity (known since 1997 as Beeston's, Andrewes' and Palyn's Charity) stipulates that "The residents shall be poor persons in the following categories" (set out below in order of priority:
- Freemen of the City of London;
- Persons who are, or have been, employed in trades akin to that of a Girdler (including workers in metals, leather, cloths and fabrics);
- Persons resident in the former administrative county of London, as constituted on 31st March 1965.