A Liberty was an area in London considered independent of the city’s normal administration. They tended to attract people eager to be unrestricted by the usual rules and regulations – actors, writers and criminals, for example. Norton Folgate, in Spitalfields, was home to Christopher Marlowe in 1589, and later boasted a playhouse which specialised in Victorian melodrama. The Liberty ended when it became part of the borough of Stepney in 1900.
The land for these Norton Folgate almshouses in Puma Court was bought in 1851 and the houses were built in 1860. Recently modernised, they are governed by Church trustees and Tower Hamlets council.