The Spitalfields Nippers

A link to a Daily Mail Online article about a set of photographs that were taken in the decades surrounding 1900 showing the heartbreaking state of the children of the poor inhabitants of Spitalfields in East London. The photographer was Horace Warner, a Quaker working in the East End to fight poverty and hunger.  Some of his photographs were used to highlight the plight of the poor; most were stored away until now.

Adelaide Springett was so ashamed of her tattered boots, she took them off for this 1901 photograph. Source: Daily Mail website  (link above).

Adelaide Springett was so ashamed of her tattered boots, she took them off for this 1901 photograph. Source: Daily Mail website (link above).

Those of us enamored by the Victorian Period or its revival movement, Steampunk, often forget that it was not all tea parties and polished brass doorknobs.  Not everyone had a country manor or took the “Grand Tour” through Europe to finish one’s education. The orphanages and workhouses were full, and not with the happy, singing orphans of “Oliver!” either.

One UK Victorian reenacting group that I’ve learned off, “The Ragged Victorians” strive to recreate the squalid, the poor, “The great unwashed”, as their website describes it.  We should not forget this aspect of Victorian life as we celebrate the happier side.

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2 thoughts on “The Spitalfields Nippers

  1. It’s fascinating that these photos were hidden away for so long, and also quite devastating. Though I do adore Dickens, the novella that really brought the plight of the Victorian-London poor home to me was “Child of the Jago” – I would certainly recommend it if these photos interest you.

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