Refuge for the Destitute  — The Male WardRefuge for the Destitute — The Male Ward from the Illustrated London News (23 December 1843): 417. 11.8 cm high by 15.5 cm wide. The women's ward appears better lit than the men's, but both have the look of converted warehouses (note straw for bedding being carried to the second storey for storage). Both dormitories prominently feature "No Smoking" signs, suggesting that lower-class women as well as men were accustomed to smoking, and that such a habit would present a significant fire-hazard.

The general jollity of Kenny Meadows' and Alfred Crowquill's illustrations of the Spirit of Christmas, anticipating the formulation of Father Christmas in the coming decade, is undercut by the stark misery of the London refuges for the indigent and unemployed. "A Christmas 'At Home'" celebrates the reunion of an upper-middle class family around the dinner table, but there is not even smoking permitted into the shelters which divide the men from their wives and children. The ILN's positive images celebrate superfluity and conviviality, even such realistic pieces as "Prize Meat" showing that some families in the 1840s enjoyed comfortable affluence.

Scanned image and caption by Philip V. Allingham from a copy in the Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Formatting and image correction by George P. Landow. [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.]

Last modified 7 July 2011