THE PROVIDENCE (ROW) NIGHT REFUGE AND HOME. —The committee of the above institution, which was founded by the late Mgr. Gilbert in 1860, have again issued their annual report. Not only has the ordinary work of the charity been continued, but a useful addition in the shape of a free soup kitchen has been made during the past year.
In the Night Refuge, every day in the winter months, nearly 300 night’s lodgings, suppers and breakfasts have been provided, free of cost, to the deserving poor, irrespective of creed. Efforts have also been made to start many of the inmates in life again by aid with clothes, tools, stock, situations, and the like. Several persons outside the Refuge have been assisted in a similar manner. In the servants’ home, the twenty places available have been filled throughout the year, whilst during that period in the Boarders’ Home for women out of employment, there have been altogether 100 inmates, 90 of whom have again obtained situations. The free soup kitchen has been opened on three days a week in severe weather, over 600 quarts of soup being distributed each week to poor and needy families in the district around the institution.
This extension, the committee point out, is a fulfilment of the wishes of the late Dr. Gilbert, the founder. In the present year, the buildings are to be enlarged by the addition of a floor to the men’s wing. It is hoped thereby to facilitate the present work, and to leave room for a permanent soup kitchen, a drying room for the men’s clothing in wet weather, and a laundry for the Servants’ Home. This enlargement, too, we believe, is in accordance with the plans of Dr. Gilbert.
Touching references are made to the death of Mr. Alfred Purssell, C.C., for many years a trustee, who was associated in the work from 1860, and who generously undertook the duties of the hon, manager, at the death of Mgr. Gilbert, and to that of Mr. W. F. Jones, the late hon. sec. of the institution.
Certain changes are in consequence announced, which it is felt will meet with the confidence of subscribers. Mr. Joseph Walton, Q.C., and Mr. Stephen White have consented to act as trustees with Alderman Sir Stuart Knill, Bart., and Mr. F. W. Purssell ; Mr. Stephen White has joined the committee, at whose unanimous request Mr. F. W. Purssell has become the hon. manager. Contributions may be sent to the last-named at Jamaica Buildings, St. Michael’s-alley, Cornhill, London, E.C.
The above text was found on p.35, 22nd January 1898 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
On Thursday (21st September) last at the Cornhill Wardmote, ALDERMAN SIR JOSEPH DIMSDALE nominated MR. FRANCIS W. PURSSELL, C.C., as his Deputy for the year, in succession to the late Mr. Deputy Layton. The new Deputy, who was educated at Downside, is perhaps best known as the hon. manager of the Providence (Row) Night Refuge and Home, founded in 1860 by the late Mgr. Gilbert. [The Tablet p.30. 1899]
THE PROVIDENCE (Row) NIGHT REFUGE AND HOME.—The Providence (Row) Night Refuge and Home,Crispin-street, E., which was founded by the late Mgr. Gilbert in 1860, opened for the winter on Monday last (1st November 1897). There was a pitiable scene at the men’s entrance, for, owing to the great amount of destitution existing, the number of applicants was so large that quite 150 had to be turned away, through want of accommodation. The Committee were represented by Mr. Francis W. Purssell (Hon. Manager), and Mr. J. W. Gilbert (Secretary), the former of whom addressed a few kindly words of welcome to the inmates. On Tuesday every place in the Refuge was filled by 5.15 p.m., the total number of men, women and children sheltered and fed being nearly 300. The soup kitchen, which was started last year, will be continued in the severe weather this winter. [The Tablet p.35. 1897]
THE MEMORIAL TO MGR. GILBERT.—The Committee for the “;Gilbert Memorial ” to be placed in the Church of St. Mary’s, Moorfields, includes his Eminence Cardinal Vaughan, the Bishop of Emmaus, the Vicar-General of Westminster, the Right Rev. Mgr. Provost Talbot, the Very Rev v. Canons Johnson, Fenton, Purcell, Akers, O’Callaghan, Graham, and Pycke ; the Very Rev. Father Procter, Provincial of the Dominicans ; the Revv. Deans Fleming and Norris, the Earl of Denbigh, the Count de Torre Diaz, Sir Stuart Knill, Messrs. Edward Bellasis (Lancaster Herald), Alfred Purssell, C.C., S. Ward, Charles Robertson. Antonio Sefi, and Herman Lescher. Those who wish to take an active part in the work of the Memorial will oblige by communicating with the Rev. Dean Norris, Brentwood. The monument for Mgr. Gilbert’s grave at Kensal Green is being executed by Messrs. Cusworth and Sons. The work will be finished before Easter. [The Tablet p.36. 1896]
The above text(s) was found on p.30, 23rd September 1899, p.35, 6th November 1897, p.36, 15th February 1896 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
The Providence (Row) Night Refuge was founded in 1860, and heavily supported by Alfred Purssell, and his children, and sons-in-law almost from its foundation. In 1909, Edmund Bellord (Agnes Purssell’s husband) was chairing the committee. The family attendees on Christmas Day, included most of the Bellord family, Agnes Bellord’s nephew, and nieces from the Winstanley family. Rex and Florence O’Bryen, who are also there, are Agnes Bellord’s sister’s [ Gertrude O’Bryen (nee Purssell)’s] brother-in-law, and his wife. J.W. (John) Gilbert the Hon. Secretary was the nephew of Mgr. Gilbert, the founder.
Wilfrid Parker, Alfred Purssell’s son in law, was chairman of the committee in 1931, Wilfrid’s nephew George Bellord was also on the committee that year. George’s father, Edmund Bellord (Agnes Purssell’s husband) had also chaired the committee. Frank Purssell had also been on the committee, and deputised for his father at times.
On Christmas Day at the Providence (Row) Night Refuge, Crispin-street, E., in accordance with the custom of the Founder, the late Mgr. Gilbert, a special Christmas dinner, consisting of hot soup, beef, potatoes, plum-pudding, bread, and oranges by way of dessert, was given to all the inmates of the Refuge. More than one hundred poor people, for whom there was no room in the Refuge, were admitted to the dinner, the total number of guests, men, women and children, being nearly 400. The two large refectories were gaily decorated for the occasion with holly and evergreen and Christmas mottoes.
Mr. E. J. Bellord (Chairman of the Committee) presided, and was supported by Mrs. E. J. Bellord, Mr. W. H. Foreman, Mr. and Mrs. R. O’Bryen, Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Bellord, Mr. L. J. Winstanley, Mr. E. A. McKenzie, Mr. A. Bellord, Mr. C. Bellord, Mr. E. Kerwin, the Misses Winstanley, Mr. G. McCarthy-Barry, Mr. A. McDonnell, Mr. J. McDonnell, Mr. J. Fentiman, the Misses Bellord, Miss Gilbert, Miss McCarthy-Barry, Miss Robinson, Mr. J. W. Gilbert (Secretary), and many others.
In the men’s refectory before dinner, Mr. E. J. Bellord, on behalf of the Committee of the Refuge wished all the inmates a very happy Christmas. He greatly regretted that, owing to the abnormal amount of distress, there was so much poverty and suffering. He hoped, however that, with the New Year, there would be a better chance for them to secure work. They must, however, forget their troubles on this great day and enjoy the fare which was awaiting them. He would ask them to bear in memory the name of Dr. Gilbert, the Founder of the Refuge, who had left it in so good a condition that they were able to continue his work up to the present time, and to whom, therefore, they really owed their good dinner that day: He also wanted them always to remember how much they were indebted to the Sisters of Mercy, who devoted their lives to the service of the poor, and who, by their generous help, made the Refuge the useful institution it was.
Dinner was served by the Sisters and the visitors, who were most generous in their attentions to their poor guests. For more than an hour both refectories presented a busy spectacle. After dinner each man was presented with a packet of tobacco and a cigar, which had been sent for them by two anonymous donors ; each woman received a small packet of tea and each child a toy, both of which were again the gifts of friends of the charity. Later on in the afternoon tea with cake was provided for the inmates, and a concert and entertainment were provided in each section for them.
The above text was found on p.38, 2nd January 1909 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
This is seventeen days before Alfred’s death on the 5th May 1897, and about six weeks before Frank’s wedding a month later on the 6th June.
PROVIDENCE (Row) NIGHT REFUGE AND HOME.—On Easter Sunday at the Providence (Row) Night Refuge and Home, Crispin Street, Spitalfields, E., in accordance with the custom of the late Mgr. Gilbert, a special dinner, consisting of hot soup, meat, potatoes, and bread, was provided for the inmates, who numbered over 300. In the absence of the Hon. Manager, Mr. Alfred Purssell, through illness, his son, Mr. F. W. Purssell, presided, and was supported by the Rev. M. Fitzpatrick, the Misses Purssell, Miss B. G. Munk, Mr. and Mrs. Secrett, Mr. J. W. Gilbert (Secretary) &c.
In the men’s refectory, Mr. F. W. Purssell gave a short address. He said that they came there on behalf of the Hon. Manager and the committee to bid the inmates welcome to the refuge. Whilst deeply regretting the misfortune which had forced them to accept its hospitality, he trusted that it might be the means of reinstating them in life. Although it was very hard to be poor, poverty was not necessarily a disgrace. The refuge had been established by the late Mgr. Gilbert to help the deserving poor, and his work was still being continued. There was every prospect this year of a revival in trade owing to the many public celebrations which were to take place, and he (Mr. Purssell) hoped that when Easter came round next year, all the inmates present would have homes of their own. In conclusion, he announced that the Rev. Mother would give each inmate sixpence as an Easter gift on leaving the refuge next morning. Three ringing cheers for the Rev. Mother and the Sisters of Mercy, and for Mr. Purssell were followed by dinner, which was served by the Sisters. The visitors then proceeded to the women’s room and to the servants’ homes, in each of which Mr. Purssell addressed a few kindly words to those present. During the course of the afternoon oranges were distributed, and additional fare was given at the tea in the evening. Altogether the poor people had a very enjoyable day, and the Sisters and visitors must have been gratified at the joy and happiness to which they by their help contributed.
The above text was found on p.36, 24th April 1897 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
The Providence (Row) Night Refuge was founded in 1860, and heavily supported by Alfred Purssell, and his children, and sons-in-law almost from its foundation. Wilfrid Parker, Alfred Purssell’s son in law, was chairman of the committee in 1931, Wilfrid’s nephew George Bellord was also on the committee. George’s father, Edmund Bellord (Agnes Purssell’s husband) had also chaired the committee. Frank Purssell had also been on the committee, and deputised for his father at times.
St Michael’s Alley,
The Honorary Manager of the Providence (Row) Night-Refuge & Home, Mr Alfred Purssell, C.C., presents his respectful compliments to Her Grace The Duchess of Newcastle, and begs once more to plead for this most deserving charity.
During the Winter Months, the Refuge provides every night nearly three hundred night’s lodgings, suppers & breakfasts to homeless wanderers free of cost. From the foundation of the Refuge thirty six years ago by the late Rev. Dr. Gilbert, nearly one million two hundred and fifty thousand night’s lodgings suppers and breakfasts have been provided.
The work of the charity does not end at “feeding the hungry” and “harbouring the harbourless”. It is also the means of enabling many of those, who find shelter within the walls of the Refuge, to begin life afresh, and to obtain again a position for themselves in the world. Those, for example, who through dire necessity, to save their families from starvation or worse, have parted with their tools, are enabled to recover them: sellers of fusees (large matches), flowers, newspapers, bootlaces, and the like, without hope or money, are supplied with a little stock: rent is paid and a small allowance granted to mothers and children, when the breadwinner through sickness is unable to work: the ragged are also clothed and situations obtained for them.
It is specially desired to call the attention of the charitable to some distinguishing marks of the Charity. In the first place it is absolutely non-sectarian. There are no questions as to nationality or creed. Whilst there is accommodation in the Refuge, no bona-fide applicant is refused, the sole passport necessary being genuine poverty and want. Secondly no effort is spared to secure the benefits of the Charity for the really deserving. The imposter, the professional beggar is soon detected. All the inmates are called upon to make a statement as to their last employment, and the cause of their misfortune, which is afterwards inquired into. By this means the benefits are secured for the bona-fide poor. It must be distinctly understood however that the poor applicant is not kept waiting for relief, but is lodged and fed, whilst the investigation is proceeding. Nor are the fallen debarred from participating in them, truth being considered a guarantee of desire to amend.
This winter special help is needed. There are no signs of any diminution in the poverty and distress around us. If the weather is severe, the sufferings of the poor will be materially increased. At times so great do their misery and wretchedness become, that those who are attempting to alleviate the distress are well nigh discouraged. The thought that hundreds of men, women and even children have in the depths of winter no home but the streets is simply appalling. There is a worse aspect to the question than this. How many of our poorer brothers and sisters in this vast metropolis are driven to crime. As degradation, by the want of food and shelter. Men and children become thieves; women and girls, alas! Barter their most valuable possession, their priceless innocence for food and shelter. These unfortunate ones find in the Refuge the means of reforming their lives, and of turning their backs for ever on the sinful past.
Will you kindly help the Committee of the Providence (Row) Night Refuge and Home in their great work amongst the poor? If you could pay a visit to it, one night during the winter months, and see for yourself the good that is being done by it, you would willingly do so.
Hear the opinions of some who have visited it:- Mr James Greenwood, the “Amateur Casual”, writing in the “Ludgate Monthly” has said “Outcasts of all kinds and from all parts find shelter there, and all are sure of something for supper and a bed, and a big roll, and a mug of cocoa ‘as a comforter’, “before they start on their way next morning…. The Managers of the Home have been thus unostentatiously engaged for many years, and the good they have effected is incalculable.”
The late Mr Montague Williams Q.C., in “Later Leaves” says of this Refuge: “There is no more Excellent institution…. The place is beautifully clean…. This institution, which is not nearly so well known as it deserves to be, is in the heart of Spitalfields.”
The “Daily Chronicle” has said: “Christianity is certainly not played out at the corner of Crispin St., and Raven Row, although it may be doubled, whether it ever found more depressing material to work upon.”
As an example of the distress, which exists in our midst may be mentioned that in the Refuge last year, amongst those assisted were an Architect, an Optician, clerks, waiters, valets, woodcarvers, ivory-turners, weavers, painters, a professor of music, a linguist, certificated teachers, dressmakers, domestic servants, etc., etc.
In addition to the Refuge, there are two homes, one for Servants, who partially support themselves by work, the other where women out of engagements can board and lodge at a small cost per week, whilst searching for situations.
An especial appeal for help is made this year, in order that funds may be raised to extend the work, which has now been carried on so effectively for thirty-six years. The Refuge was founded by the late Rev. Dr. Gilbert in 1860 with fourteen beds. It has now accommodation for nearly three hundred. Will you assist in extending the good work?
The smallest donation will be gratefully acknowledged, and the heartfelt prayers of the hungry you help to feed, of the houseless you help to lodge, the naked you help to clothe, the fallen you help to brighter and happier lives will be bound to
The valuable link between the Home and the Corporation of the City of London may be noted from an examination of the charity’s list of officers in the annual report. Sir John Knill, treasurer and a trustee, was Lord Mayor of London, 1909-10; Sir Henry T. McAuliffe, a trustee, has served for many years upon the Common Council and is Deputy-Alderman for Bishopsgate; Sir Harold Downer, a member of Committee, was Sheriff in 1924 before his election last year as Alderman for Coleman Street Ward. Similarly, an extensive “second generation” of workers for Monsignor Gilbert’s institution will be recognized. Sir John Knill’s offices were formerly held by his father, the late Sir Stuart Knill, London’s first post-Reformation Catholic Lord Mayor; as mentioned above, Captain W. W. Parker, son of the late Sir Henry Watson Parker, a well-known City lawyer, fills the chair of the Committee, as did his father-in-law, the late Mr. Alfred Purssell, a former member of the Corporation and the great personal friend of the Founder ; Mr. George Bellord has succeeded his father, the late Mr. Edmund Bellord, thirty four years a member of Committee and twenty-six years its chairman ; Mr. Joseph Towsey joined the Committee upon the death of his father, the late Mr. William Towsey, an original member with a record service extending from 1860 to 1926; Mr. J. Arthur Walton is the son of the late Hon. Mr. Justice Walton, a trustee for many years. Finally, Sir John Gilbert, a nephew of the Founder, will this year complete thirty-five years’ work as Secretary.