Search This Blog

Archaeology of domestic life in early 20th century Britain

The aim of this blog is to publish data on early 20th century buildings, whilst this is still accessible. Much material of interest to the historian is being destroyed through 'home improvements' and DIY, and objects are increasingly being divorced from their context through dispersal after the death of their owners. By creating an easily accessible contextual record of material culture, it is hoped that those interested in this period of history may have a resource through which the details of domestic life might be studied.

If you have any artefacts of interest, or make discoveries during the process of your own investigations that you would like to share, please contact me!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Ada Chesterton homeless in 1920s London: the end of the journey

I'm about to finish a draft of a short article discussing journalist Ada Chesterton's descriptions of her experiences of homelessness in 1920s London, as they appear within 'In Darkest London'. So I'll post her final words in this 1926 book, which describe her emotions after returning from her self-imposed fortnight on the streets, in February 1925:

"I went back to my own home raw with fatigue and with an added perspective of sorrow; but with a wider and deeper comprehension of the infinite loving kindness of the human heart. The outcasts never failed me. When I was spiritually hungry, my hands were filled to overflowing with those small deeds of kindness which flower to perfection in the darkness and bleakest soil. I had passed through a door little, of ever, used by the well-fed. I had experienced actual physical privations which women of the middle class may weep over, but cannot comprehend. I had touched the bottom of destitution; I had had no place wherein to lay my head. Never again can I look out on life with the same eyes; never again can I forget that all night long women are wandering to and fro upon the pavement, or trying to sleep in an alien bed.
And yet what I have seen has not made me hopeless, rather do I glory in the knowledge that starvation of body, or starvation of mind, cannot and does not, sear the soul of the outcast. And for this reason, and because I have had shown to me the beauty of giving, I cannot rest until I awaken the same desire to give among those women who, like myself, have always known the security, the peace, the contentment of a home.
And it will take much to convince me that among the twenty million women in this country, there cannot be found enough to join with me in easing the burden of our sisters, and removing the stigma that, in this city of almost countless dwellings, there remains a sorrowful multitude who, neither in home nor in bed, have permanent lodging."

It would only be fitting at this point to mention the Cecil Houses charity - founded by Ada Chesterton after her experiences - which continues to support homeless people:

And to provide a reminder of 'Crisis at Christmas' - supporting homeless people in London this winter:

No comments:

Post a Comment