Carry on Matron

From a Rough Minute Book recording the Freemasons’ School Committee meetings, dated 1788, we find information about the election of the first Matron for the School, following an advertisement that had earlier been placed in a newspaper.

The candidates below were some of those shortlisted, together with their addresses at the time and any recommendations they had received to support their applications.

Mrs Jane Edge, at Mr Pontin’s, Stanhope St, Letter in consequence of the Advertisement

Stanhope St from Google maps
Stanhope St from Google maps

Stanhope Street is in the Kings Cross area and this was possibly the closest address to the first school buildings in Somers Place East. Today, this area is filled with modern blocks of flats.

In the early eighteenth century John Strype described Clare Street, Houghton Street and Holles Street, all leading from Clare Market to Stanhope Street, as “well built and inhabited” (, but he also noted pockets of poverty in small courts north of the market, and off Stanhope Street.   It was named for Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield and built on adjoining land to Chesterfield House.

The identity of Mr Pontin is unknown. Mrs Edge was not the only applicant from Stanhope St. See also Mrs Williams.

Mrs Dorothy Hall, No 48 Mill Bank St, Westminster, Letter in consequence of the Advertisement

Although this address clearly existed in the eighteenth century, what is at that address now is not what was there in Mrs Hall’s time. “For most of the 19th century the river frontage to Millbank was dominated by the huge bulk of the Millbank Penitentiary, the first national prison. The plan form of the Penitentiary, which covered 18 acres, is clear in the boundary of the Conservation Area [of Millbank]. The Penitentiary was built by Parliament in the early 19th century according to the philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s ‘panopticon principle’, which allowed maximum surveillance of prisoners by warders at a central point. … Millbank Conservation Area is located in the South of the City of Westminster. It has an octagonal boundary covering the site of the former Millbank penitentiary” (

Drawing of the Prison Site at Millbank Tate Archive Photograph Collection
Drawing of the Prison Site at Millbank
Tate Archive Photograph Collection

This strongly suggests that the property now listed as 48 Millbank is probably Edwardian. The buildings appears to have been converted into flats. Rent p.c.m. for one of the flats in 2009 was £2,167, location being everything!

48 Mill Bank St with the statue. Image from Google street view; Jete from
48 Mill Bank St with the statue. Image from Google street view; Jete from

There is a statue, Jete by Enzo Plazzotta based on the dancer David Wall, on the corner of 46-57 Millbank, Westminster, London, one of ten statues of dancers found in the capital.

Mrs Elizabeth Smith, No 41 Baldwins gardens, Grays Inn Lane, Holborn, Letter in consequence of the Advertisement

Part of the Hatton garden estate, Baldwins Gardens was originally laid out in the C17th and is believed to have been named after the gardener to Elizabeth I. It has been extensively altered so that, although it still exists, it bears no resemblance to the street in 1788.

Baldwins Gardens from Google maps
Baldwins Gardens from Google maps

Mrs Mary Cartier, No 16 Hamilton St, letter signed by Mr Marsh, Horse Guards & Mr Wm Faden Governor & Mr John Yeomans (whose wife is a subscriber) & 13 non-governors

There is not enough information here to identify the address with certainty. There are several Hamilton Streets in London. There is a Hamilton Place which might be a candidate as it is in the general area of London where the other addresses are found. Described on Wikipedia as “a short street (about 400 feet (120 m) long)”, Hamilton Place is also referred to on a different website ( as both Hamilton Place and Hamilton Street on the same page. An error? Or an interchangeable nomenclature? If this is the right street, it should be noted that although Wikipedia describes it today as “one of the most prestigious streets in London with three five star hotels on it”, it was not always so. “Towards the end of the 18th Century, by which time Hamilton’s lease had been acquired by others, the houses in Hamilton Street were said to be “in a ruinous condition and intended to be removed.”

Possibly Hamilton Place
Possibly Hamilton Street?

Mrs Martha Douglas, No 18 Paradise Row, Chelsea

“By 1794 Paradise Row from Gough House to Cheyne Walk was lined with houses, except at the Physic Garden” (A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12, Chelsea, ed. Patricia E C Croot (London, 2004), pp. 41-47 The houses, built largely between 1745 and 1794, were demolished in 1905.

Paradise Walk
Paradise Walk (between Swan Walk and Tite St)

“Paradise Row and Cheyne Walk were considered the busiest and most thriving parts of the village, as nearly all its industries were located on the river bank, and nearly all the best families lived in Cheyne Walk or Paradise Row…” (Rambling Recollections of Chelsea and the surrounding District as a Village in the early part of the past century by J B Ellenor

We know from a Pigot’s Directory of 1824 that 18 Paradise Row was opposite Paradise Walk as this information is given in a list of streets therein. It is now called Royal Hospital Road. shows Paradise Walk and therefore enables No 18 Paradise Row to be placed.

In the ballot which elected the Matron, Mrs Douglas received 4 votes. Whilst this may not seem many, it is, of course, four more than many of the other candidates received!

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