St Vincent's Orphanage for Girls, Westminster, London
The St Vincent's Orphanage was established in June, 1859, by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, a Roman Catholic order that originated in France, and which had recently established a branch in England. The orphanage initially occupied temporary accommodation at York Street, Westminster. In 1863, it relocated briefly to Park Street, then moved a new purpose-built premises at Carlisle Place, Victoria Street, Westminster. The facilities provided at Carlisle Place included an orphanage, workroom, and a day middle school for girls, an 'infant asylum nursery' or crèche, a night school for men and boys, and a soup kitchen.
Up to 190 girls could be received into the orphanage, from infancy up to 14 years in age. They were provided with a 'suitable education', taught needlework, and trained for service, with a payment, of £10 to £12 a year required from the person placing the child.
On January 8th, 1872, the premises were formally accredited for use as a Certified School, allowing it to receive boys under the age of seven boarded out by the workhouse authorities. The certificate was cancelled on April 20th, 1877.
The day school received girls between the ages of 2 and 15 years. They are taught 'according to Government requirements' at a payment of 3d. or 6d. per week.
At the end of 1876, concerns were raised by the Board of Guardians of St George's, Hanover Square, about the high mortality rate among the infants placed at the orphanage. In January 1877, the Local Government Board published its report following an inquiry into the matter. It was noted that since the opening of the orphanage in 1859, a total of 489 infants had been received under the age of twelve months, of which 402 had died. Although the general management of the institution was said to be good, the deaths were attributed to the unfavourable conditions in which the infants were received. The use of a more appropriate food than cows' milk was recommended, and no more infants would be allowed to be received until a suitable room for use as a nursery could be be provided.
The establishment closed in 1939. In 1948, a Hostel for Working Girls operated at the premises. The site later housed Montfort House School. The building is now St Vincent's Centre, a day centre for homeless people.
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- Daughters Of Charity Of St Vincent De Paul, Provincial House, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1RE. (Archivist: Sister Bernadette Ryder DC) Holdings comprise: Admission and discharge registers (1860-1938); Personnel register (1867).
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
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