Kingsdown Orphanage (Mrs Ginever's Homes), London and Broadstairs
The Kingsdown Orphanage, which also became known as Mrs Ginever's Homes, was established in 1874 by Mrs Phoebe Ginever (1831-1894), initially operating in her own home at 23 Kingsland Road, Holloway. By 1877, it had moved to 3 Manor Road (now Manor Gardens), Holloway. Initially receiving only girls, admission was restricted to those who had lost both parents, or those with widowed mothers who were too ill to work, are alone eligible.
In 1877, Mrs Ginever established a Home for Afflicted Orphans (or Orphans' Hospital), for those with physical disabilities, at 8 Tremlett Grove, Junction Road, Holloway. In 1881, the Matron of the Home was Mary Ann Spillett, assisted by Jenny Tiffin. By 1890, the Home had moved to new premises at Cuthbert House, Granville Road, Broadstairs. The Tremlett Road property was then used to house infant orphans below the age of seven. In 1891, Jenny (or Jane) Tiffin was matron of the Tremlett Road establishment.
In 1890, the object of the Homes was stated as being 'To receive girls, who are clothed, maintained, and educated free of charge. (b) To receive orphans or fatherless children who are suffering from some kind of disease. Spinal complaints, paralysis, consumption, and cripples are the usual cases taken. (c) To provide a home for infants.' Admission was limited to those who had lost both parents, or who had widowed mothers too ill to work. All cases were thoroughly investigated, and the most deserving taken. There was no restriction as to age. The girls were trained for domestic service, and sent into families at the age of 16.
By 1889, the main orphanage occupied premises at 18-19 Pemberton Road, Upper Holloway. In the census of 1891, Mrs Ginever was listed as the resident Honorary Superintendent of the establishment, with Emily Kelly as Matron, Emily Firth as a Governess, Eliza Hatcher as Teacher, and Minnie Kelly as Assistant Teacher. There were then 67 girls and 23 boys in residence. Following a renaming of the road in the 1890s, the home was given the address 35-37 Pemberton Gardens. In May 1904, there was a serious fire at the premises, caused by fat boiling over. The middle rooms on the lower floor were burned out and the ground floor severely damaged. When the lease of the two houses expired in 1909, the boys moved to a nearby house at 29 Pemberton Gardens, which remained in operation until at least 1927 but had closed by 1939.
In 1909, a new 'Home for 70 Orphan Girls' was opened at 92-94 Hornsey Lane, Holloway. By 1917, a renumbering of properties on the road resulted in its address changing to 160-162 Hornsey Lane. It had also by now become mixed and accommodated up to 70 boys and girls. The Hornsey Lane home was superintended by the former matron of the Tremlett Grove home, Jane/Jenny Tiffin, who apparently had a reputation as being rather tyrannical.
By 1939, the Orphanage's only premises were those at Hornsey Lane. During the Second World War, the building was taken over for use as a day nursery but returned to its previous function in 1946. By 1956, the Orphanage had become known as the Kingsdown Home for Girls. It finally closed in the late 1960s.
Modern flats now occupy the Hornsey Lane site, although most of the other premises still stand.
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.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- None identified at present.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.