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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Workhouse Visiting Society


It was founded by Louisa Twining in 1858 “to promote the moral and spiritual improvement of workhouse inmates” (The English Church Union Kalendar, 1863), though it also campaigned vigorously for practical improvements in their education and health

It acted as a supervising organisation for some of the other institutions founded by Twining, including the Home for Workhouse Girls and the Home for Incurables in its own and the next door premises in Great Ormond Street

It organised a system of visiting and practical help for workhouse inmates throughout England and Ireland: “The Workhouse Visiting Society had a comparatively short life, but it left behind a habit of workhouse visiting which spread into the provinces”(M. A. Crowther, The Workhouse System, 1834–1929: The History of an English Social Institution, 1981)

What was reforming about it?

It was a sustained and systematic onslaught on the conditions in workhouses by middle-class women

Where in Bloomsbury

It was based at 23 New Ormond Street (now 22 Great Ormond Street) in 1863 (The English Church Union Kalendar, 1863)

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

Louisa Twining, ‘The Objects and Aims of the Workhouse Visiting Society,’ Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science (1858)

Louisa Twining, Recollections of Life and Work: Being the Autobiography of Louisa Twining (1893)

The Society also published its own journal, the Journal of the Workhouse Visiting Society from 1859 to 1865; copies are held in the British Library and the LSE archives, among other places


None found

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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