Henry Raine (1679-1738), born into a family of Wapping brewers, owned The Star Brewery on New Crane Wharf on the River Thames in Wapping.
In the 18th Century people who owned breweries made a large amount of money because drinking water was contaminated with bacteria which could cause potentially lethal infections. Particularly in towns people felt safer drinking beer as the bacteria in the water used in its manufacture were destroyed in the fermentation process. The kind of beer they drank with their meals had a much lower alcohol content than a pint of beer sold in pubs today and was called ‘small beer’. On average people would get through several pints of this small beer per day. Henry Raine also had a contract to supply the navy so he had a wide customer base.
In 1719 Henry Raine became the principal benefactor of a charity school in Wapping for 50 boys and 50 girls. Later becoming the Raine Foundation School, the building has many architectural similarities with Hurst House. It has four Corinthian pilasters and arched tops to the sash windows. It also has symmetrical wings to either side. As the school was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor it seems likely that he probably also designed Hurst House.
The original statues of the boy and the girl in their 18th century school uniforms are still standing in their purpose built arched and pedimented recesses. The original school building is in Raine Street, Wapping. The school is still in existence today and is known as The Raine’s Foundation School although it is in now housed in much larger buildings in Bethnal Green to accommodate hundreds of pupils aged from 11 to 18.
Henry Raine lived at Hurst House from 1714 until his death in 1738. He married Sarah Petre, daughter of a sea captain from Mile End on August 1725 but she died in February the following year. He did not remarry, and was buried next to her in the churchyard of St George’s in the East, Wapping. A plaque is displayed on the railings around his Henry Raine’s tomb to acknowledge the large sum of money he donated towards the building of this church. The church was also designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor.
Both the school and church still stand close to the site of The Star Brewery, although this has now been demolished.