The House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek Street, Soho

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From Wikipedia:

“In 1811 the House ceased to be a residential property and was let to the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers. In 1855 the House was used by the Metropolitan Board of Works, and became the office of Sir Joseph William Bazalgette. It was during this time that the nineteenth century additions were made at the back of the House.

(David Owen (1982): “Within three years, it became obvious that the Board’s Greek Street offices were not suitable for its business...In the early summer of 1858, a committee recommended the purchase of Berkeley House in Spring Gardens, just off Trafalgar Square...Spring Gardens proved a good buy: the total cost of the new buildings, fittings and all, was about £19,000, and the return on the sale of 1 Greek Street amounted to nearly £6,500…”)

Research published in The Dickensian in 1963 suggests that the rooms and gardens of the House of St Barnabas were the blueprint for the imagined lodgings of Dr. Manette and Lucy in the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, published in 1859 and set between the turmoil of Paris during the French Revolution and the comparative tranquillity of London. Subsequently the road on which is the Chapel entrance was renamed Manette Street.

In a building at the back, attainable by a courtyard where a plane tree rustled its green leaves, church organs claimed to be made, and likewise gold to be beaten by some mysterious giant who had a golden arm starting out of the wall… as if he had beaten himself precious. – A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

The ‘golden arm’ now resides at the Dickens House Museum but you can see a modern replica sticking out of the wall near the Pillars of Hercules pub at the western end of Manette Street (formerly Rose Street). (The Londonist: “…until 2017, when it was removed for a redevelopment (hopefully to return).”)

The House of Charity, founded in 1846, moved from its home No. 9 Rose (now Manette) Street to the new premises at 1 Greek Street in 1861, which had been purchased for £6,400…

…After the outbreak of the Second World War, during the blitz, the nuns moved back to Clewer…”

From: What England Owes to the Oxford Movement (1924), by S. L. Ollard:

“In July, 1856, the famous Mission Settlement at the London Docks in the parish of S. George-in-the-East was begun. Its story is imperishably associated with the name of Charles Lowder, but its importance for this survey is that it began the movement which has gradually developed into the “Settlements” which have during the last fifty years been planted in the slum areas of most great cities. The S. George’s Mission, as it was called, blazed the trail for them, its success encouraged others…The foundation of S. Saviour’s Church in the slums of Leeds by Dr. Pusey in 1845 had had the same aim, but it had little chance of realizing it in the midst of constant theological controversy, and a House of Charity in Soho had begun its work on more modest lines a little earlier, but it was the S. George’s Mission which began the great attempt to bring life and light into the vast district of East London, and in that attempt priests and laymen and Sisters of Mercy were united. They went down and lived among the poor. Oxford House, Cambridge House, the great College and School Missions, not in London only, have all sprung from that effort of the Anglo-Catholic Revival in 1856.

In 1841 the first Anglican Sister dedicated herself to the Religious life, but for several years there was no community which she could enter. In 1844 the first definite Sisterhood was founded in the Diocese of London in the parish of Christ Church, Albany Street; in 1847 Canon Chamberlain founded at Oxford the Community of S. Thomas the Martyr, which is now the oldest community of the Revival; in 1848 began the Society of the Holy Trinity, of Devonport, under Miss Sellon, and the Community of S. Mary the Virgin at Wantage. Within a few years sprang up what are now the great Sisterhoods of All Saints, of Clewer, of S. Margaret, East Grinstead, and the first in the Northern Province, viz. that of S. Peter, Horbury; seven more were founded in the ‘sixties, six more in the ‘seventies, one in the ‘eighties, five in the ‘nineties, and so the revival has gone on…English people have become accustomed to the sight of the Religious habit, so that it is almost impossible now for a Sister of Mercy to be shouted at in the streets as “Old Mother Nightcap,” “.

From: Walter Thornbury, ‘Soho Square and its neighbourhood’, in Old and New London: Volume 3 (London, 1878):

“Among the many charitable institutions to be found in Soho, none perhaps are more worthy of public support than one at the corner of the Square and of Greek Street, called “The House of Charity.” It occupies the house which formerly belonged to Alderman Beckford, who lived here in princely splendour. The institution, which is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was founded in 1846; but the present building and fitting-up of the premises dates only from 1863, when they were taken at a cost of upwards of £3,000. “It is the only Home in London gratuitously afforded to such distressed persons as are of good character, upon a recommendation from some one who knows them. Thus many deserving persons are saved from the sufferings and privations which precede an application to the casual ward or nightly refuge, as well as from the degradation consequent upon their reception into such promiscuous places of resort. Among the various classes of distress relieved by this House are patients discharged from hospitals before they are sufficiently recovered to take situations; these find here a comfortable lodging and ample diet, and are generally successful in obtaining situations. Orphan or friendless girls who have unadvisedly come to London in search of employment, or have accidentally lost their places, meet here with protection, counsel, and, in general, with situations. Widows, who have been reduced to the necessity of seeking a subsistence for themselves, are here recommended to places of trust or domestic service. Emigrants, while breaking up their homes and converting their effects into money, wait here until they embark. Out-patients of hospitals, excluded, through want of room, or by regulations, from admission into them, are enabled to derive benefit, while here, by attending the hospitals for medical advice and treatment. In short, the House of Charity is,” says the Council of the Institution in their report, “a home for every kind of friendlessness and destitution which is not the manifest offspring of vice and profligacy.” “

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