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London, Soup Kitchen, Brick Lane

From the end of the 18th century, the prosperity which the eastern suburbs of the City had enjoyed was beginning to wane. The textile trades were in decline and the Napoleonic wars brought food shortages. Evidence of efforts to ameliorate the consequences can be found at Nos. 114-122, Brick Lane. The pair of houses are early 18th century (above a 20th century ground floor), with a frontage renewed c. 1795. Here Spitalfields Soup Ladling Society was founded in 1797, this commemorated by a plaque over a passage next to No. 116. Such organisations customarily accommodated themselves in existing shop premises or houses, although there is evidence that the soup kitchen developed a sophisticated queuing system, later adopted elsewhere, for managing the large numbers of users.

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London, Providence Refuge, Crispin Street

With the continued decline of the East End in the 19th century, the need became acute not only to feed but also to shelter the increasing number of destitite men, women and children. The former Providence Refuge is a notable example of such provision by the RomanGlossary Term Catholic Church, opened in 1868 by Rev. Daniel Gilbert, who acquired the site of a Jewish fairground at the corner of Crispin Street and Artillery Lane in 1860. The Sisters of Mercy managed the refuge which was designed by Messrs Young in a GothicGlossary Term style, low-key but distinctly ecclesiastical in tone. Its principal facade is a large and bleak four storey range with arched pairs of windows. At its south end are separate entrances under bracketed panels inscribed with 'Women' and 'Men'. Each led to a large open reception halls, above which were large dormitories in the upper storeys. The top floor provided a permanent home for women to be trained for domestic service. At the north end, is a gabled five storey stair tower with a four bayGlossary Term extension for the Convent of Mercy, 1895-8 by William Patrick Ryan with windows beneath arched dripmoulds and pilasters with caps carved with foliage to mildly leaven the austerity. The Sisters also opened a ragged school in nearby Gun Street, rebuilt by Ryan in 1907 as St Joseph's Schools. Now demolished. The refuge has been converted into flats.

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London, Soup Kitchen, Brune Street

By the end of the 19th century large areas of Whitechapel and Stepney were populated by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Russia. The levels of poverty were extreme in places and efforts were made wihtin the larger jewish community to provide improved housing and welfare. The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor opened in Brune Street in 1902, designed by Lewis Solomon. It shows the splendid effect that could be created in a philanthropic building whose function was mundane but humane. Rich red brick is dressed with mouldings of warmly coloured terracottaGlossary Term fom the Ruabon potteries in the Midlands. The facade is asymmetrically composed with mullioned windows through three storeys and gables with volutesGlossary Term. Over the length of the ground floor is a splendid tiled fasciaGlossary Term heavily inscribed in flowing lettering with the name and dates of foundation in English and Hebrew. Beneath the central three bays is the orignal entrance to the Committee's offices, with curved pedimentGlossary Term inset with a relief of a soup tureen, known as "The Apotheosis of Soup". Either side of this entracne are the entrance and exit to the Kitchen. The west range was originally independent, designed as a shop with classrooms, reading rooms and workshops above. Converted to flats in 1997 by Duncan Thomas.


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