Brixton Orphanage for Fatherless Girls, Brixton, London
Brixton Orphanage for Fatherless Girls, also known as Brixton Girls' Orphanage, was founded in 1876 by Mrs Annie Montague. Its object was 'to receive, maintain, clothe, and educate gratuitously female orphan children who, by the loss of both parents or of the father only, have been left without any means of support, and train them as domestic servants.'
Starting with a with a small fund of £100, Mrs Montague rented a house and on 1 May 1876 admitted into it four orphans. The establishment steadily grew and in 1881, occupied premises at 55 and 57 Barrington Road, Brixton, later also taking over number 53. Additional accommodation was constructed at the rear of the house and by 1886 three hundred fatherless girls were being fed, clothed, and taught without payment of any kind being required. In 1893, the house at number 51 was being used to house former inmates in domestic service who were between situations.
Those applying for admission to the Orphanage were required to be between 5 and 12 years of age and to provide certificates of their birth, the marriage of their parents, and the death of the father. The girls received a basic education in reading, writing, arithmetic and grammar, and were taught plain needlework. They also received training in household duties and carried out all the housework of the home. At the age of 14 to 16, the girls were found situations in domestic service, with a suitable outfit being provided. Those whose conduct while in service was good were received back temporarily when out of a situation. The home adopted the 'family system', the children being under a head matron, assisted by two under-matrons.
The School site is shown on the 1896 map below.
In 1914, the then superintendent, Miss Ladden, founded the Guild of Perseverance. The aim of the scheme was the 'binding together of all the elder girls to work for all that was highest and best.' From 1919, the Guild had its own journal, initially produced monthly and the quarterly.
The home continued in operation until around. Its then inmates were transferred to the Spurgeon's home at Stockwell. The Brixton premises later became an annexe for the Brixton School of Building. It has now been converted to residential use and known as College Green Court.
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.
- Lambeth Archives, Minet Library, 52 Knatchbull Road, London SE5 9QY. Holds copies of the Guild of Perseverance journal 1919-1936.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Has additional information, including lists of names of inmates and staff extracted from the Guild Paper.
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