St Margaret's Home Industrial School for Catholic Girls, London
On August 3rd, 1861, the St Margaret's Home for Roman Catholic Girls was certified as an Industrial School at 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1. The superintendent was Miss Elizabeth Ford. An inspection report in 1862 recorded that a total of 41 girls had been committed in it, which was suggested as being as many as the means of exercise and employment available in a location such as Queen Square would allow. The ladies who superintend the institution (now noted as as being Miss Ford and Miss Pole) maintained it in connection with a school of nearly the same size for orphan and destitute children who were received without charge, or by aid of charitable subscriptions.
In 1861, newspaper advertisements announced that the School offered 'artificial flowers of every description made to order at City prices.'
In 1863, the School moved a short distance to 31 Queen Square, where it was re-certified on July 10th of that year.
An inspection report in 1865 expressed concern at the frequency of absconding, and the insubordinate spirit prevailing among the girls. The School's manager, Miss Stanley, was said to have had great difficulty in finding efficient assistants to take charge of the school and industrial training. The younger girls were very backward, with 18 of them unable to read at all. This, it was suggested, was largely due to almost all the girls coming from 'the lowest and most neglected of the Irish families in London' and that 'no other English industrial school has such rough and difficult materials to deal with.'
In 1866, the School was relocated to East End House, East End Road, Finchley, a building belonging to nuns of the order of the Good Shepherd. The property was said to contain good sleeping accommodation and had extensive outbuildings capable of being used for school instruction, meals, etc. There was also a good extent of garden attached. The premises were formally certified for operation on October 24th, 1866. The superintendent was now Miss Haslewood.
Another move in 1871 took the School to Holcombe House, Mill Hill, London NW7, where on June 2nd, it was certified to receive up to 100 girls aged from 6 to 16 years at their date of admission. Miss Haslewood had left the School earlier in the year to run a new establishment at Eltham and was temporarily replaced by Miss Hanmer. In September, 1871, the running of the School was taken over by Sisters of the Order of Saint Francis.
As was typical in girls' institutions, the inmates were occupied in needlework, housework, washing, knitting etc., and trained for domestic service.
An inspection report in 1896 noted that the School as being located in a handsome conventual building, crowning one end of a hill, on the other end of which was St Joseph's Missionary College. The whole convent was said to be a beautiful building, with the chapel being the most conspicuous feature. As well as the Industrial School, a high-class boarding school was connected with the convent. The accommodation for the Industrial School was described as light and airy, with features such as the dormitories and playroom being models of what such places should be, the latter being provided with a piano. The garden was also said to be a valuable feature. Educational performance was generally good. A 'shop' had recently been established in the School, in which the serving was done by older girls who also kept the books. The girls were instructed in physical drill with music, and their gait carefully watched. They were also taught the steps of the minuet, and the little ones learned Kindergarten games. The girls went out for walks two or three times a week, and in the summer they went out daily to two fields or the convent garden. Every third Sunday or Monday were visiting days. There was always at least one annual excursion, e.g. to the zoo. The winter evenings were passed in games, in reading or small entertainments, e.g. plays, or in evening classes in such subjects as basket-work and cooking.
By 1902, a class had been started for training girls for sick-room attendance, to cook invalid's food, change bedding, take temperature etc. The superintendent at this date was Sister M. de Sales.
In 1904, the Sisters decided to resign the School's certificate and it closed on September 1st of that year.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- No records noted at present for this establishment — any information welcome.
- Mahood, Linda Policing Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (1995, Univeristy of Alberta Press)
- Prahms, Wendy Newcastle Ragged and Industrial School (2006, The History Press)
- None noted at present.
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