St Mary Magdalene Home, Paddington, London
The St Mary Magdalene Home was opened in 1865 30 Weymouth Street, Paddington. It was established as an adjunct to Queen Charlotte's Hospital for Unmarried Mothers, which was founded in 1753 as a maternity and lying-in hospital for 'deserving unmarried women with their first child'. After spending a maximum of fourteen days at the Hospital, a woman and her child could make use of the Home, whose objects were:
The house in Weymouth Street could not be secured on a permanent basis and when no other convenient premises could be found in the neighbourhood, the Home was closed in 1867. In 1868, however, a suitable house was acquired at 14 (later renumbered as 26) Ranelagh Road (now Lords Hill Road), Paddington, where operation of the Home was resumed. It was run by the Sisters of St Mary's, Wantage, and in 1890 had 56 inmates.
Admission required a payment (in 1890) of £13, payable in advance in quarterly instalments, plus 5s. a week to support the child once it reached the age of six weeks. Also needed were a recommendation from a clergyman or respectable householder, a medical certificate of health, and a "Queen Charlotte's letter" accepting the woman for confinement and lying-in at Queen Charlotte's Hospital. Inmates were expected to remain at the Home for 12 months, when efforts would be made to find them suitable employment.
St Mary's continued in operation until the 1920s. In the 1880s and 1890s, had a independently run companion establishment at Folkestone.
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.
- 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 minutes of the Council of the St Mary Magdalene Convalescent Home.
- 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)
- No surviving local records identified at present.
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