Providence Row Night Refuge
Providence Row Night Refuge Home and Convent of Mercy, 47-49, 50 Crispin Street & 1-9 Gun Street, Spitalfields.
Founded as a non-sectarian charity by the Reverend Daniel Gilbert in 1860. Originally a night refuge for homeless women and children in a former stables in Providence Row, Finsbury Square, these premises soon proved to be too small and a in Crispin Street was purchased for a new building. The replacement building was opened in 1868. It provided accommodation for 300 women and children, and 50 men, as well as a convent for the Sisters of Mercy who ran the refuge. Annexes in Gun Street and Artillery Lane were opened as hostels for working girls.
According to oral history, Mary Jane Kelly is alleged to have stayed there, a claim also made by Joseph Sickert and expanded by Stephen Knight. The story has it that Mary Kelly was staying here when she was chosen by the nuns to take up a position as a shop assistant in Cleveland Street, thus instigating her involvement in the 'Royal Conspiracy Theory'.
In a BBC interview in 1973, an elderly nun at the refuge claimed that she had been a novice there in 1915 and was told by an old sister who was there in 1888 that "if it had not been for the Kelly woman, none of the murders would have happened".
The refuge continued to operate until 1999. Much of the rear parts of the properties were demolished (although the facades still remain) and since 2006 the building has been called Lilian Knowles House. It is used as accommodation for students of the London School of Economics and is managed by Shaftesbury Student Housing.
- Survey of London, vol.27. (Ed. FHW Sheppard, 1957)
- Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, Stephen Knight (Harrap 1976)
- The Jack the Ripper A-Z, Paul Begg, Martin Fido, Keith Skinner (Headline 1996)
- LSE Residences - Lilian Knowles House