Sir John Morden, born in 1623, was a merchant, a member of both the Turkey ( Levant ) Company, and of the East India Company. From 1669, with his wife, Dame Susan, he lived at Wricklemarsh Manor, Blackheath.
He founded his College to provide accommodation and support for merchants like himself, but who had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own; were single, either widowers or bachelors; of a minimum age of 50 years, and members of the Church of England.
The College was built between 1695 and 1700 in the style of Wren: 40 apartments framing a quadrangle, with a Chapel on the east side opposite the main entrance, set in gracious grounds.
Until his death in 1708, Sir John administered the College himself. Since then, and in accordance with his will, it has been governed by an independent Board of Trustees, initially drawn from the Turkey Company, later the East India Company, and now from Aldermen of the City of London.
Between 1700 and the end of World War 2, a library, dining room, clubhouse and nursing home were added; the Charity Commission endorsed the Charity’s first official Scheme (the governing documents); and Sir John’s will was adjusted to allow people from a far broader range of backgrounds to be included. Since World War 2 additional residences have been built both in Blackheath and Beckenham, raising the capability of the College from 40 to some 400 beneficiaries. Sir John Morden’s vision has been richly fulfilled.