St Pelagia's Home, Limehouse, London
In 1884, the St Pelagia's Magdalen Home for Roman Catholic girls and women, was founded by Cardinal Manning, with financial and practical support from Mr and Mrs Abrahams. It was run by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in premises at 2 Church Row (now renamed Newell Street), off Commercial Road, Limehouse. In 1890, the home could accommodate up to 30 inmates who were various described as 'fallen or 'who have been leading an irregular life or who have given way to drink'. Other homes bearing the St Pelagia's name were subsequently opened at Rotherhithe, Highgate and Tottenham.
The inmates of the home were expected to remain for two years, although no charge was made for their accommodation. They were occupied in laundry work.
By 1900, the home had acquired additional space by expanding into 1 Church Row, which increased its capacity to 80 places. However, the building was becoming increasingly cramped and its location unsuitable. In 1905, the sisters began to raise funds for new premises and, thanks to two large donations of £1,000, were able to purchase Etloe House at Leyton, to where the home relocated in June 1907.
The Church Row building no longer survives.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- The Sisters of The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Chigwell Convent, 803 Chigwell Road, Woodford Bridge, Essex IG8 8AU.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. (The Ancestry website also has LMA records relating to workhouses and other institutions — more details.) Has some correspondence and papers relating to the St Pelagia's Homes (ref: A/FWA/C/D/245/001)
- Bartley, Paula Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England, 1860-1914 (2000, Routledge)
- Finnegan, Frances Poverty and Prostitution: A Study of Victorian Prostitutes in York (1979, CUP)
- Hopkins, Jane Ellice, Work Among the Lost (1870, William Macintosh)
- Nokes, Harriet Twenty-Three Years in a House of Mercy (1886, Rivingtons)
- Taylor, William J The Story of the Homes (1907, London Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution)
- Thomas, E W Twenty-Five Years' Labour Among the Friendless and Fallen (1897, Shaw)
- No surviving local records identified at present.
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