Records are organised in to the following sections: Elizabeth Fry Refuge/Probation Hostel, Refuge for the Destitute, British Ladies, Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners and other material
Modern records concerning the Probation Hostel's time in Reading are still held by the Hostel. Trust deeds and papers concerning the Refuge is understood to remain in the custody of the Hostel's solicitors, Sarjeant & Sheppard, 11 Friar Street, Reading RG1 1HF (Now 150 Friar Street Reading RG1 1HE). In both cases permission for inspection must be obtained from the Elizabeth Fry Probation Hostel.
Illustrations of the premises of the Refuge for the Destitute on Hackney Road, at Hoxton and Dalston are in the visual collection at Hackney Archives Dept. 195 Mare Street later became the New Lansdowne Club, and
The main group of records of the Refuge for the Destitute are listed at Hackney Archives Dept as D/S/4.
British Ladies Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners
Open except for case books, which are closed for 50 years from date of last entry.
Immediate source of acquisition:
Acc No 1991/11
Date of deposit: April 1991 and March 1992
Deposited by: The Hostel
Condition of deposit: Indefinite loan
There is a published view of New Landsdowne Club in 1978 in the Hackney Society's Tower to Tower Block (copies in the local history collection.
Administrative / biographical background:
There are three groups of records in this deposit. Firstly there are the records of the Elizabeth Fry Probation Hostel, previously the Elizabeth Fry Refuge; secondly the Refuge for the Destitute (part only, see below) and thirdly the British Ladies Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners.
The Elizabeth Fry Refuge was founded in 1849, following a public subscription undertaken in 1846 shortly after the death of the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845). It was intended to provide temporary shelter for young women discharged from metropolitan gaols or police offices and to improve their characters. After over sixty years at 195 Mare Street, it removed in 1913 to 18a Highbury Terrace, Islington. In 1923 it was amalgamated with the Female Refuge for the Destitute, then based at the Manor House, Dalston Lane. After the amalgamation the Dalston premises were sold and those at Highbury Terrace enlarged. Around 1960 the establishment was moved from Islington to 6 Coley Park Avenue, Reading. The Elizabeth Fry Probation Hostel is now a Home Office approved residence (1991).
The Refuge for the Destitute was founded by Rev Edward William Whitaker, (1752-1818) probably in 1804, and opened for male and female inmates by 1806. After being briefly located at Cupars Bridge, Lambeth, it acquired premises on Hackney Road in 1811 and premises in Hoxton (the former in 1811). During 1848 there was much discussion about rebuilding the Hackney Road premises, but the reduction of government grant given for the care of prisoners from government institutions in 1849 decided the Governors to close the Male Refuge and move the Female Refuge to the Manor House Dalston.
The founding of the British Ladies Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners was a consequence of Elizabeth Fry's philanthropic work in Newgate. Its quarterly committee met at the Elizabeth Fry Refuge from about 1855 and possibly earlier.