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Bloomsbury Institutions


North London Deaconesses’ Institution

Also known as North London Deaconess Institution/London Diocesan Deaconess Institution/Deaconess Community of St Andrew/Community of St Andrew (CSA)


It was founded in 1861 by Rev. Thomas Pelham Dale and others to be a “residential society of ladies for charitable parish work for the poor” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Dale became its Secretary and Chaplain, while his relative by marriage Elizabeth Ferard, first Deaconess in the Church of England from 1862, became its Head Sister (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Differences about its purpose led Dale to resign in 1868; the organisation was thereafter run by Elizabeth Ferard (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), with Edward H. Singer as its Hon. Secretary (MS Tait 149 ff 346–7, 1868, Lambeth Palace Library)

Louisa Twining was also a supporter (Louisa Twining, Recollections of Life and Work: Being the Autobiography of Louisa Twining, 1893)

In 1873 the Institution began appealing for funds to move to bigger premises; Elsie Day wrote to The Times to say that its nursing work was “most seriously impeded by the inadequate accommodation which their present house affords”, as it had only enough space for ten patients in four rooms (The Times, 21 February 1873)

They were hoping to gain extra rooms, a Dispensary, and space to add a chapel (The Times, 21 February 1873)

At that time, the main activities of the deaconesses apparently included receiving incurable patients who were not admitted into ordinary hospitals, nursing the sick poor in their own homes, and promoting sanitary and religious reform (The Times, 21 February 1873)

Its name was changed to the London Diocesan Deaconess Institution in 1869, and to the Deaconess Community of St Andrew in 1943 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry on Elizabeth Ferard)

It was integrated into the Church of England in 1987 (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, entry on Elizabeth Ferard)

It continues as a religious order of women within the Church of England, in pastoral and caring roles

It is a registered charity established under the original deed of trust of 1861

What was reforming about it?

It can be seen as the beginning of ordained ministry by women in the Church of England

Where in Bloomsbury

It was based at 50 Burton Crescent from 1861 to 1873

It moved to west London in 1873 when the Burton Crescent premises became too small

Website of current institution

The community has no website; however, as part of the Church of England, its details can be found on the Church’s Religious Communities website at http://communities.anglicancommunion.org (opens in new window)

Books about it

Sister Joanna, ‘The Deaconess Community of St Andrew’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 12 (1961)

Henrietta Blackmore ed, The Beginning of Women’s Ministry: The Revival of the Deaconess in the Nineteenth-Century Church of England (Church of England Record Society, 13) (2007)


Its archives are held by the institution at 8–9 Verona Court, Chiswick, London W4 2JD UK, tel. 020 8987 2799 (no website)

A printed prospectus is held in London Metropolitan Archives, ref. H01/ST/NC/18/03/04/001; details are available online via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

A copy of its Rules from 1863 is held in Lambeth Palace Library, ref. Tait 133 ff 428–9; details are available online via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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