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From the rescue of fallen women to the support of vulnerable families’: A history of the St Michael’

Talk on the history of the St Michael's Fellowship

The St Michael’s Fellowship recently celebrated its centenary history, having been established in 1903. It was founded by Agnes Parr, a wealthy, widowed, Victorian philanthropist, to provide refuge and moral guidance to unmarried pregnant girls from professional and upper class families. The Fellowship’s maternity homes, rescue homes and nursery were discreetly advertised in the Church Times.

Much of this history is the story of the hardship for women having children outside society’s norms. In the early years much emphasis was on the rescue and redemption of ‘fallen women’. As the century progressed, the influence of religion weakened, and modern social work practice took over. As the stigma attached to illegitimacy declined, those daughters of vicars and lawyers, who hid away in shame in the Fellowship’s houses, were succeeded by vulnerable families from disadvantaged backgrounds facing very different challenges.
The research on the Fellowship has raised interesting questions around the role of particular religious and social networks in the world of early 20th century philanthropy and exemplifies some of the key changes in the 20th around ideas of the family, pregnancy and motherhood.


Alison Penn | talks


Date and Time:

3 October 2006 at 5:30 am


2 hours



77 Great Peter Street

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Organised by:

Voluntary Action History Society
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