Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Regency Snippets - Charity

."..visitors saw something too, of the great charities - the offspring of private benevolence - which the islanders had endowed their capital (London). They visited the Charterhouse, the Foundling Hospital in the northern fields, the palaces built for naval and military pensioners at Greenwich and Chelsea , and dined in the hills of the Goldsmiths and Merchant Taylors - reresentatives of corporations, which spent between them as much on relieving the poor as a Continental sovereign maintaining his Court. The British capital had 20 voluntarily supported hospitals, a hundred and twenty almhouses, fifty free dispensaries, forty-five endowed free schools and two hundred and fifty parochial schools, educating, clothing and feeding nearly 20,000 children. Though the palace of St James was the smallest and least imposing in Europe, her real palaces were hospitals. Wren's Greenwich and Chelsea, Gibb's St Bartholomews with its Hogarth staircase, St Thomas with its four great quadrangles treating and discharging 11,000 patients a year; the new "Bethlem" and "St Luke's" for the insame with their enormous classical facades were buildings that a king might have been proud to inhabit. In no other country was there so much voluntary corporate goodness towards the hungry and diseased and weak. When, on Holy Thursday 6,000 London charity children marched in procession to St Pauls the Prussian General Yorck delcared nothing had ever moved him so deeply."

Arthur Bryant.
The Age of Elegance.
Chapter Five. The Triumphant Island.

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