Changing Lives

Robert Owen, 1771 - 1858. Pioneer socialistRobert Owen, 1771 - 1858. Pioneer socialist Design for the Dean Orphanage, EdinburghDesign for the Dean Orphanage, Edinburgh Rev. Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847. Preacher and social reformerRev. Thomas Chalmers, 1780 - 1847. Preacher and social reformer Landscape with ruinLandscape with ruin Close No. 101 High Street, GlasgowClose No. 101 High Street, Glasgow Three Studies for the Decoration of the first Mortuary Chapel, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, EdinburghThree Studies for the Decoration of the first Mortuary Chapel, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh Pitch and TossPitch and Toss Children and Chalked Wall 3Children and Chalked Wall 3 Sir Basil Urwin Spence, 1907 - 1976. ArchitectSir Basil Urwin Spence, 1907 - 1976. Architect TenderTender

Thomas Hamilton

Design for the Dean Orphanage, Edinburgh
1830

Long before the ideas of the modern welfare state took hold, throughout the 1700s and 1800s the Poor Law provided some form of social security for the poorest in society. It relied heavily on church donations and was administered through local parishes. Where the parish system was insufficient, private charities sometimes filled the gaps. The Orphan Hospital of Edinburgh is such an example. It was founded in 1733 by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. Donations were given both in money and in kind – one baker in the Canongate donated 25 dozen bread rolls at the Hospital’s opening. By the early nineteenth-century the institution had outgrown its premises, and in 1833 the Hospital moved into a new building, designed by Thomas Hamilton, and became known as the Dean Orphanage.

  • Credits William Findlay Watson Bequest 1881
  • Medium Pen and ink and watercolour over pencil on paper
  • Size 29.90 x 40.70 cm

Did you know?

An old household account tells us that the Dean Orphans were fed mainly on porridge and kale, and that all girls in the orphanage were expected to knit and weave their own as well as the boys’ clothes!