Ancestry UK

Ladies' Charity School, London

The Ladies' Charity School was founded in 1702 as an adjunct to the existing Ladies (or Ladyes) Hospital at Highgate. It stood on the site of the Old Hall next to the village green. An early description of the establishment recorded that:

The Lady's Charity School, so pleasantly situated on Highgate Hill near London, being built and more especially dedicated to them for their most Christian Charity and Praise, and to the honour of our Protestant Religion, for Poor and Fatherless Children, Boys or Girls (which either they or their Honble. Husbands, Lords, Knights, Gentlemen, Governors or other good Benefactors shall recommend) being about 9, 10 or 11 years of age, who shall be all decently clothed in blue lin'd with yellow, and everything answerable. The Boys taught the art of Painting, Gardening, Casting Accompt and Navigation or put forth to some good handicraft trade. The Girls taught to Read, Write, Sew, Starch, Raise, Paint and Dress yet they may be fitt for any good service. And any Person above said may send in from any place, Boy or Girl, French or English, who either hath or will procure to be given 50 pounds to the said School. And if everything succeed not to their comfort and satisfaction they shall command 3 parts of their money back at ye year's end, their being many Honble. and Worthy Governors and if at this time a few Children of the persecuted French Protestants should be admitted, it would be great Charity to them and advantageous to both in matter of Language. If 2 or 3 Persons joyne together and send one in, it is the same thing. Likewise they who give 5, 10 or 20 guineas towards the Building or Endowing the said School shall also have their Names fairly registered to be read of all in future ages, for Promoters of so Honourable, and so Pyous a Designe.

Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale were subscribers to the School, and Johnson drew from it his story of Betty Broom, in The Idler. The charity was also supported by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).

In 1827, the School was operating at 37 King Street, Snow Hill, near Smithfield Market. By the 1850s, it had moved to 30 John Street, Bedford Row. In 1853, the School's operation was described as follows:

This School receives 51 girls, children of Protestant parents, from all parts of the United Kingdom, offering an asylum especially to the offspring of such as have been plunged, by the vicissitudes of life, from a state of competence and respectability, into the depths of adversity. Its advantages are not restricted to orphans. Of the children now in the School, some have lost both parents, others are fatherless, some motherless ; the insanity or death of a mother renders girls of tender age as much objects of compassion as any that can be conceived.

The children are received between the ages of 8 and 10. They are educated, clothed, and wholly maintained until the age of 14; they receive a useful English education, and are taught the doctrines of the Church of England. The number of subscribers to the School is at present inadequate to support it, and under these circumstances an appeal is made to those who take an interest in the welfare of the young; who wish to see them trained to do their duty in that station of life in which it has pleased God to call them. The assistance of Ladies is especially solicited upon the ground that this is emphatically a Ladies' Charity — it was founded by Ladies — is under the entire superintendence of Ladies — and every lady subscriber has free access to the School-house at pleasure. There is no other Institution similarly conducted, and the greatest good arises to the children from thus being placed under the care of those who arc so well able to understand and minister to their wants.

Supported by Voluntary Contributions.
Annual Subscription ..... £1 1s. | Life Subscription ..... £10 10s.

Elections take place half-yearly — on the last Tuesdays in April and October — when every subscriber is entitled to as many votes as there may be children to be then admitted.

By 1881, the School had relocated to 22 Queen Square, then two years later its was based at Powis House, 16 Powis Gardens, Notting Hill. Its object was now stated as being 'to educate and maintain daughters of respectable parents who have seen better days.' Admission was now by election, or immediately on payment of £105. Certificates were required of each candidate's baptism and the marriage of their parents. 'Diseased, deformed, or infirm' children were ineligible for admission. A payment of £2. 18s. was required at admission. The inmates were educated for domestic service. They remained in the School until they were 15, when they were provided with situations.

In 1919, the School was taken over by the Church Army and became a training home for girls aged 14 to 18.


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.