The Lying-in Charity

Help for poor married women

The 'Baby Box'
Les Casey
Linen and clothes for mother and baby - and the obligatory Soap
Les Casey
Rule book - aims of the charity
LHS archives
Rule book - looking after the contents
LHS archives

As in many communities, there was help for the ‘respectable poor’ of Harpenden when a baby was born.  One of the boxes for stores, complete with contents, is in our Museum collection.

The Rules of the Lying-in Charity of 1860 set out how subscribers contributed to the funds and might make up to three ‘recommendations’ each year.

“Any woman requiring a Box shall, on receiving a ticket from a Subscriber, notify the same to the Storekeeper, giving (if possible) two months’ notice and at the time of her confinement, on sending the Ticket to the Subscriber, shall receive an order to a grocer for 1/0d worth of soap and grocery and on giving up her ticket to the Storekeeper, shall receive a box for her use for one month from the day of her confinement.  On returning the same in an orderly state she shall receive a gift of clothing for the child (if living) as the funds may allow”.

According to Edwin Grey in Cottage Life in a Hertfordshire Village these ‘“baby parcels or bundles” were a great boon to many of the cottage housewives at such a time, and were greatly appreciated’.

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