Peabody Square

Part of the Peabody estate Lawrence Street, 1870. Built to the original Italianate design of Henry Astley Darbishire, architect to the Peabody Trust 1864-1885. Photograph and text Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

This housing was for the deserving poor, rather than the actually down-and-out: "Someone in steady, albeit humble, employment, who could pay his rent regularly, was the ideal tenant" (Picard 58). The rules were strict, especially with regard to the prevention of disease:

No application for rooms will be entertained unless every member of the applicant's family has been vaccinated ... and [the applicant] further agrees to have every case of infectious disease removed to the proper hospital ... the passages, steps, closets and lavatory windows must be washed every Saturday and swept every morning before 10 o'clock. This must be done by the tenants in turn. Washing must only be done in the laundry ... Tenants are required to report to the superintendent any births, deaths or infectious disease occurring in their rooms. Any tenant not complying with this rule will receive notice to quit. [quoted by Picard 59]

Nicholas Bentley describes the "generosity of George Peabody, an American businessman who had established a business in London in 1837. Over a period of four years Peabody gave what was then the astionishing sum of �350,000 'To ameliorate the condition of the poor . . . and to promote their comfort and happiness' by the erection of model tenements. In London a number of these tenements, known as Peabody Buildings, still serve their original purpose of housing working-class families" (72).

Related Material


Bentley, Nicholas. The Victorian Scene: 1837-1901. London: Spring Books, 1971.

Picard, Liza. Victorian London: The Life of a City, 1840-1870. London: Phoenix, 2006.

Last modified 31 December 2005