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The origin of the Foundation lies in gifts and donations for the poor and needy made to the Church of St. Giles Without Cripplegate. The parish, named after one of the gates in the walls around the City of London, extended to the north to include the ancient manor of Finsbury. Today, the medieval Church stands in the heart of the Barbican estate. 

Cripplegate Foundation exists today thanks to the generosity and stewardship of these gifts.

2nd April 1500

The first recorded gift, of £40, to St. Giles Without Cripplegate was made in John Sworder’s will. Part of Mr Sworder’s donation was earmarked to provide trousers for local people.  Over the centuries, many men and women followed his example, leaving gifts for education or assisting the poor.


Cripplegate Foundation was established by the London Parochial Charities Act. It amalgamated all the charitable donations previously administered as separate trusts. All the assets of the Vestry of the Parish of St. Giles Cripplegate given for charitable purposes were transferred to the new Foundation.


The Cripplegate Institute - latterly a theatre - was built on Golden Lane, with reading and reference libraries, classrooms, a theatre and even a rifle range. The Institute later ran a Secretarial College.    


The Cripplegate Institute closed, and the Foundation became a grant making trust. The exterior of the Institute still exists, but is now office space.


The Barbican Centre officially opened in the area surrounding the Church of St. Giles Without Cripplegate.

1st April 2008

The Foundation’s area of benefit was extended to cover the whole of Islington.

Cripplegate Foundation exists today thanks to the generosity and stewardship of many people over 519 years.

History is important, but the work of the Foundation today is guided by research, evidence and consultation with Islington residents.

Our work today

Read more about our work today by clicking the related links below.