Ancestry UK

Clapham Home School for Pauper Girls, Clapham/Brixton, London

The Clapham Home School for Pauper Girls was established in 1875 by Marian Thornton in collaboration with Mrs Jane Nassau Senior, the first female Poor Law Inspector and leading advocate of the cottage homes system.

By 1886, the home was operating in premises at 55 Larkhall Rise, Clapham where 20 girls could be accommodated. On 5 August, 1886, the establishment became a Certified School, allowing it to receive girls boarded out by the workhouse authorities, although it continued to accept those from other backgrounds. The School was certified to accommodate up to 12 girls, with Boards of Guardians being charged six shillings a week (in 1890) for each girl. Girls were normally under the age of 12 at their date of admission. When a vacancy occurred, notice of it was sent to one or more of the Boards sending children. The School's intake included girls from unions in the London area such as Richmond, Wandsworth, Clapham, Islington, Hampstead and West Ham, and from others as far afield as Sunderland.

The girls were given basic education and were also trained for domestic service, usually leaving at the age of 14, although delicate or 'backward' ones could remain longer. Girls placed out from the School could be received back or otherwise provided for during intervals of service, holidays, etc. Half-yearly reports of those in service were, when desired (up to the age of 20), sent to the Boards of Guardians.

On April 10th, 1894, the School was recertified in its new premises at Fern Lodge, 79 Bedford Road, Clapham where 20 girls could be accommodated. It had moved again in 1900 to Arundel House, 135 Acre Lane, Brixton, where on 23rd December it was certified to receive 22 girls. The matron here was Miss Burpit.

Miss Burpit and inmates at Clapham Home School for Pauper Girls, Brixton, 1905. © Peter Higginbotham

The girls at Acre Lane went unaccompanied to a local London County Council school. They usually left school at the age of fourteen and spent their final year in the home in training for domestic service. All attended the Church of England and a Sunday school. Each summer, the girls had three weeks holiday at the seaside.

Inmates at Clapham Home School for Pauper Girls, Brixton, 1919. Courtesy of Richard Nelson.

The School was still based at Acre Lane in 1920 but is thought to closed in the 1920s.

A home for boys was operated by the same management at Milton Bryant, near Woburn, Bedfordshire.


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.

  • None identfied at present — any information welcome.


  • None identified at present.