Ancestry UK

The Barnardo Story

The First Home

After several false starts, Barnardo managed to raise the money to rent his first premises at Hope Place, Limehouse which, on March 2nd 1868, opened its doors as the East End Juvenile Mission. Hope Place was partly a 'ragged school' — a free school on Sundays for poor children in the area — and also the base for Barnardo's evangelical missionary work. Activities at Hope Place soon grew to include weekly services for children; bible classes for men, women and children; mothers' meetings; girls' sewing classes; and a special service each evening which was attended by an average of 130 lads. Plans were also being developed for a day school and a self-financing 'refuge' or hostel for orphan working boys who would pay three shillings a week for board and lodging.

Hope Place, Limehouse. © Peter Higginbotham

At around this time, Barnardo encountered a destitute boy named Jim Jarvis who was to have a profound effect on his work. Jarvis, a homeless orphan, revealed how he and hundreds of boys like him slept rough in London each night. You can read Barnardo's own account of the meeting.

Jim Jarvis shows Thomas Barnardo a rooftop 'lay' of destitute boys, c.1869. © Peter Higginbotham