British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females, Clapton, London
In May 1851, James Gilliard Simpson and his wife Jane founded the British Asylum for Deaf and Dumb Females. Its aim was to provide such individuals with the education and training by which they could support themselves. The Asylum's first premises were in the Simpsons' then home village of Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire. Shortly after the opening of the Asylum, James died and the inmates were transferred to a house at Stamford Hill, in north-east London. A Mr Sutton then took an interest in the institution and through his influence, aided by Mrs Simpson, it became one of London's leading charities.
In 1857, the Asylum relocated to Eagle House, Homerton. In 1863, the Prince and Princess of Wales became patrons of the institution.
It moved again in 1864, to a large old mansion at 179 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney The Asylum site is shown on the 1895 map below.
On 2 December 1867, the establishment was authorised to operate as a Certified School, enabling to to receive individuals boarded out by the Poor Law authorities. In 1884, the premises could accommodate up to 50 inmates, aged at least 10 years at their date of admission. In fact, census listings suggest that the great majority of the residents were adults.
In 1890, the aims and admission regulations for the Asylum were stated as follows:
By 1917, the institution had been renamed a Home rather than Asylum, By 1920, it had become the British Home for Deaf and Dumb Women.
In 1933, the home was forced to relocate after its site was compulsorily purchased by the local council for a housing development. It then moved to new, purpose-built premises at 26 Clapton Common, designed by A Rubens Cole. In more recent times, the building has been used as a place of learning by the Kollel Congregation Synagogue.
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.
- Hackney Archives, Dalston CLR James Library, Dalston Square, Dalston Lane, London E8 3BQ. Has Annual Reports Committee Minutes, Financial Records etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Pritchard, D.G., Education and the Handicapped 1760-1960 (1963, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Watson, J, Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (1809)
- Watson, Thomas J., A History of Deaf Education in Scotland 1760-1939 (Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1949)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.