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Bloomsbury Institutions


Gordon House

Also known as Home for German Working Girls


It was founded in 1881 as what was thought of a “home for German girls of the working class” (The Times, 16 May 1881); The Times later actually calls it “The Home for German Working Girls” (The Times, 12 July 1881)

It actually it seems to have been more generally a home for foreign servants and governesses, although the Crown Prince and Princess of Germany presided at a concert at the German Embassy to raise funds for it (The Times, 12 July 1881)

Its Superintendent in 1889 was a Miss Seebo (Toilers in London; or Inquiries concerning Female Labour in the Metropolis, 1889)

In the 1880s, board and lodging cost 4s 6d a week, a bed 2s 6d per week, and a separate cubicle 4s per week (Toilers in London; or Inquiries concerning Female Labour in the Metropolis, 1889)

“This Home is a great boon to foreign servants, and mistresses who dismiss foreign girls ought to give them this address, instead of turning them out into the streets, as is only too often done at the shortest possible notice” (Toilers in London; or Inquiries concerning Female Labour in the Metropolis, 1889)

In 1894 its Hon. Director, John Shrimpton, wrote to The Times to thank the newspaper for bringing to the public’s attention the plight of German girls inveigled to London with a false promise of domestic service (and presumably then lured into prostitution) (The Times, 22 September 1894)

He said that Gordon House, which was still at 8 Endsleigh Gardens, had received between five and six thousand girls since it opened, most of them German (The Times, 22 September 1894)

By 1917 it had become part of the organisation Homes for Working Girls in London (founded 1878) (Herbert Fry’s Royal Guide to the London Charities, 1917)

It was still at 8 Endsleigh Gardens in the 1901 census, with Emilie Seebo, born Germany, still its Superintendent, and 41 other female residents, including a Pauline Seebo, also German

The other residents listed in the 1891 census were German, English, Swiss, Austrian, Bohemian, Swedish, Danish, Irish, and Jamaican; the youngest were 16 and 17

The organisation changed its name to Homes for Business Girls in London in 1952 but went into voluntary liquidation in 1961, its homes being taken over by the YWCA

Its home, 8 Endsleigh Gardens, housed the Freedom Defence Committee in the 1940s, and in the 1950s was demolished to make way for Thorne House, the headquarters of the General and Municipal Workers’ Union

Thorne House was bought by UCL in 1964 and became Bentham House, the University’s law school

What was reforming about it?

It took in girls from continental Europe who had come to London to find work

Some of them could not speak English, and ended up at the home when they were starving and had nowhere else to go (Toilers in London; or Inquiries concerning Female Labour in the Metropolis, 1889)

Where in Bloomsbury

It opened at 8 Endsleigh Gardens in 1881 ; it was still listed there at the time of the 1901 census

Website of current institution

The parent institution, Homes for Business Girls in London, ceased to exist in 1961

Books about it

None found


The records of Homes for Business Girls in London were deposited at the Modern Records Centre of the University of Warwick in 1982, ref. MS.243/; details are available via the Modern Records Centre website (opens in new window)

There are records in this collection relating to 8 Endsleigh Gardens at MSS.243/88/Box 1

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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