A Home for the London Mothers

“Mrs Miller seems to have enjoyed herself immensely and the Doctor was much pleased with her improvement.

Another satisfied customer of the London Mother’s Convalescent Home!

The Home stood on Chobham Road, in the north of Valley End parish. It was founded by the Hon. Mrs Charles Hay, (Arabella Augusta Hay,) in 1889.

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The London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

The Home was intended for married women. They could visit with babies aged between 3 weeks and 3 months, and could stay for a fortnight. Many were from poor areas, with large families, living in 1 or 2 rooms.

Mrs Hay was right to be concerned for their health. Even by 1905 the infant mortality rate for Notting Dale, a poor area in Kensington, was 432 out of 1,000.*

The Home was run by the Clewer Sisters, an Anglican order of Nuns, founded in 1852 to support the poor in Windsor. Mrs Hay had been connected to them for many years, and so it was natural that when she founded her charity she invited the Clewer Sisters to run it.

london-mothers-home

The London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

The Home seems to have been skilled at raising funds. There was a list of subscribers, and an annual Pound Day, when they received goods in money and in kind. The contributors were listed; “Mrs Walter Forsyth, sweets; HM the King – 20 pheasants.”

The Pound Day had speeches. In 1929 they were praised for the “care of both mother and child… helping them to take their true part in the future of the Empire.”

The women and babies benefited from their stay, and returned home refreshed. Local ladies enjoyed taking the girls out for treats, or inviting them to tea. It was a popular and successful local charity.

In 1899 Mrs. Hay was succeeded at her death by her daughter, Miss Maud Hay – Drummond. Then in 1941, Maud died. As she had always intended, she left the Home to the Clewer Sisters.

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The Chapel in the London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

But the situation had changed. The building had been bombed, and needed repair, and the Sisters would have had to pay the death duties. The Order was also starting to cut back on their activities. They seem to have declined the legacy.

By 1971 the house, now renamed Drummond House, had been redeveloped as flats. The author Hilary Mantel lived there for a while. “We were living in Sunningdale in a ramshackle flat converted from a former mother and baby home, which had been run by nuns…The big rooms were gracelessly partitioned, and there were crucifixes and Latin mottoes in unexpected places.”**

The building has recently been redeveloped. It still stands on the Chobham Road, just before the railway bridge in Sunningdale. On the front there is a carving of a mother and baby, a reminder of the London Mother’s Convalescent Home.

London Mothers Home Stamp.jpg

Stamp from the London Mothers’ Convalescent Home. (Image courtesy J. End.)

  • Quoted in “Love and toil; motherhood in outcast London 1870 – 1918.” Ellen Ross. OUP 1993.

** Hilary Mantel. “Giving up the ghost: a memoir.” Fourth estate. 2010. p.234.

***************************************

Sources.

Berkshire Record Office. D/EX  1675/1/12/9/1-44

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