As revealed by the carved stone Arts & Crafts-style lettering on the 1907 façade above the doorway of 187 Bermondsey Street, this was a ‘Time and Talents Settlement’ building. Founded in 1887, the Time & Talents Association was a nationwide Anglican organisation that sought to use the spare time and skills of young ladies of the leisured middle-classes in the service of those less fortunate than themselves, such as factory workers. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1889 and two years later, there were 21 centres across the country, with over 1100 members.
In 1899, Time and Talents were offered the former tailor’s shop on Bermondsey Street (rumoured to be haunted), which became its headquarters. Here they ran ‘healthy recreation’ which included lessons in reading, writing and painting; as well as cookery classes, health lectures and ‘magic lantern’ evenings. They also ran a penny lending library and served cheap dinners three days a week. The Settlement building itself was in poor condition, so a loan was taken out for major building works and these were completed in 1908. Time and Talents remained there until 1962, and today, the building houses studios and residential flats.
In 1980, Time and Talents moved to The Old Mortuary in Rotherhithe, situated beside St Mary’s Gardens. Built in 1895 to replace another mortuary built just two years earlier, the architecture of the site includes a vaulted ceiling in Russell Hall, original doors, a lantern skylight and wood panelling in the chapel. It ceased to be used as a mortuary in 1965, and stood empty until 1980 when Time and Talents moved in, refurbished it and founded a community centre, which continues to run a programme of activities for local adults and children.