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Miss Stride’s Homes for Destitute Girls and Fallen Women

Also known as Miss Stride’s Homes


The Homes were founded before 1875 by Miss Sarah Elizabeth Stride, who became Lady Superintendent of the home opened for destitute girls and fallen women at no. 12 Great Coram Street (The Times, 4 June 1875)

Her choice of this location was opportunist and somewhat ironic; no. 12 Great Coram Street had been the scene of the violent murder of a prostitute in 1872

Miss Stride however apparently failed to pay her contractors in full for getting the house ready, and was subsequently taken to court: “Some time after the Coram-street murder had been committed, she took the house in which that crime was perpetrated and converted it into a home for discharged prisoners. The premises wanted some repairs, and among other things the blood stains from the murder had to be obliterated. The plaintiffs contracted to do the work for 69l. 10s. Of this 20l. had been paid, and 9l. more was paid into court. The present action was to recover the balance” The plaintiffs were eventually awarded another £36 10s (Pettigrew and another v. Stride, Daily News, 21 January 1874)

She was at the same time or soon afterwards also running a similar Home in her own house, 17 Hart Street (A/FWA/C/A41/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

Her appeal pamphlet Lost in London (1875) was printed by the “Ladies’ Printing Press (for the Employment of Necessitous Gentlewomen)” at 48 Hunter Street, which must have been one of James Colmer’s also rather dubious institutions; at the time it was the address for his Blind Poor Relief Society (A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

The pamphlet itself contains a highly idealised account, reprinted from the Daily Telegraph of 25 February 1875, of Miss Stride’s saintly endeavours in rescuing fallen women through her Homes, including her efforts on behalf of one of many women who misguidedly thought that their children would be looked after by the Foundling Hospital if they were abandoned in Mecklenburgh Square (Lost in London, 1875; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

On 16 December 1875 a Special Committee of the Charity Organisation Society was appointed to investigate her Homes (A/FWA/C/A41/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

The Committee met several times to discuss its concerns, one of which was Miss Stride’s having named Lord Shaftesbury as Patron of her Homes in a report issued in 1876, even though he had resigned in November 1875 (A/FWA/C/A41/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

However, the Charity Organisation Society itself subsequently came under fire for apparently sanctioning the publication of damning details about Miss Stride and her associate, Rev. George Hough, Chaplain of Millbank Prison, including the claim that she had previously been discharged by both the Midnight Meeting Movement and the Reformatory and Refuge Union (possibly the Female Preventive and Reformatory Institution, which was closely associated with the Midnight Meeting Movement) for incompetence and misconduct (A/FWA/C/A41/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

Miss Stride retaliated with a publicity campaign of her own which forced the Society to disclaim official responsibility for the attack (A/FWA/C/A41/1, London Metropolitan Archives)

Among her supporters were George H. Stanton and Albion Snell, respectively the Vicar and Treasurer of Holy Trinity Church, St Giles, who wrote to defend her character and activities from 19 Montague Street and 129 Tottenham Court Road respectively (letters of 3 July 1875 and 15 March 1876, published in Miss Stride’s Reply to the Accusations Brought Against Her by the Charity Organization Society, 1876; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

Other local tradesmen from across south and east Bloomsbury wrote to say that she had paid them in full; the Charity Organisation Society annotated its copy of the statement, showing that it had apparently checked into each name given (Miss Stride’s Reply to the Accusations Brought Against Her by the Charity Organization Society, 1876; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

And in a report published in response to her Reply, the Society duly noted discrepancies between this list and other published information about her creditors; it also questioned the statement of Albion Snell that he had had extensive and always satisfactory business transactions with her Homes, noting that he was in fact a watchmaker and jeweller by trade (‘Observations on Miss Stride’s Reply to the Accusations Brought Against Her by the Charity Organisation Society,’ 13 April 1876; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

For a discussion of this controversy in its wider context, see Berry Chevasco, ‘ “Homes of Hope”: The Rescue and Reform of Bloomsbury’s Fallen Women’ (opens in new window)

Miss Stride had in the meantime opened a third home at at Aldborough House, Tottenham Green (The Times, 4 June 1875)

However, she ran out of money shortly afterwards; her own house at 17 Hart Street was “closed up with bills in the window advertising the house to be let, or the lease to be sold” when L. Eason visited it for the Charity Organisation Society on 8 September 1877 (L. Eason, report for Charity Organisation Society, 11 September 1877; A/FWA/C/D18/3, London Metropolitan Archives)

Her bankruptcy case was subsequently reported in The Times (14 February 1878, 21 February 1878, 7 March 1878), but she was still apparently continuing to run the Homes, from a temporary office at 16 Hart Street (The Times, 8 May 1878)

The Birkbeck Society were said to have retaken possession of the house in Great Coram Street (The Times, 21 February 1878)

In 1879 Miss Stride was again featured in The Times, this time as a witness in the case of Louisa Gray, who was trying to force the MP John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle Drax (aged 79) to contribute to the upkeep of a child she had allegedly had by him (The Times, 1 May 1879)

Louisa Gray had visited Miss Stride’s Home to enlist her help (The Times, 1 May 1879)

This was almost the end of Miss Stride’s controversial career; in November 1879 she wrote to her nephew George B. Stride to inform him that she was in the New Hospital for Women (by that time no longer in Bloomsbury, but at 30 Soho Square), very ill, and about to have an operation on a tumour (copy of letter from Sarah Elizabeth Stride to George B. Stride, 6 November 1879; A/FWA/C/D18/3, London Metropolitan Archives)

She later died at the Hospital (copy of letter from Rev. Fred W. Cox to George B. Stride, 18 November 1879; A/FWA/C/D18/3, London Metropolitan Archives)

Cox was writing from “The Gospel Mission Metropolitan Homes, Temporary Office, The Home, 103 Euston Road”, and her funeral started from the Gospel Mission Home, 103 Euston Road, to Highgate Cemetery (The Times, 27 November 1879) but it is not clear what (if any) connection these homes had to Miss Stride’s Homes themselves

It no longer exists

What was reforming about it?

It is difficult to establish how far her endeavours were genuinely aimed at the rescue of fallen women, an enterprise which was in any case problematic in the context of Victorian notions of female respectability

Miss Stride seems not to have been popular with other charitable organisations locally; the Matron of Louisa Twining’s Industrial Home for Girls in New Ormond Street said that she “considered it shameful that Miss Stride should have been encouraged and allowed to go on so long” (L. Eason, report for Charity Organisation Society, on or after 13 June 1877, A/FWA/C/D18/3, London Metropolitan Archives)

Where in Bloomsbury

There were three Homes, two of which were in Bloomsbury: one at 12 Great Coram Street and the other at 17 Hart Street, where Miss Stride also resided (Lost in London, 1875; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

The remaining house was in Tottenham Green (Lost in London, 1875; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

In 1877 there were rumours that Miss Stride had taken another house in Regent Square, but a Charity Organisation Society agent sent to investigate found no evidence of this

Perhaps there was some confusion with the Homes of Hope based there from the 1860s (H. G. Hooper, report for Charity Organisation Society, 11 June 1877, A/FWA/C/D18/3, London Metropolitan Archives)

Miss Stride was briefly a tenant, around 1870, of no. 3 Grenville Street, where according to her landlord, she had been late with the rent, left suddenly having stripped the house of its furniture and even its lead piping, and pleaded poverty whilst giving lavish entertainments elsewhere (Charles Allen, statement of 31 March 1876, in ‘Observations on Miss Stride’s Reply to the Accusations Brought Against Her by the Charity Organisation Society,’ 13 April 1876; A/FWA/C/D18/2, London Metropolitan Archives)

She had apparently also previously lived in Southampton Row (A/FWA/C/A41/1, London Metropolitan Archives), and by the time of the Louisa Gray case, she was living in Bernard Street (The Times, 1 May 1879)

Website of current institution

It no longer exists

Books about it

None found


Correspondence and papers relating to its investigation by the Charity Organisation Society from 1872–1880 are held in London Metropolitan Archives, ref. A/FWA/C/D/18/001–003, with minutes of a special committee held on the Homes at A/FWA/C/A/41/001 ; details are available online via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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