Dr Barnardo and 'the queen's shades': Liminal London, hospitality and Victorian child rescue
Brunel University, Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts
To support his ubiquitous philanthropic enterprises, Dr. Barnardo published tales set in the typical London spaces where homeless children often took shelter: lodging houses, stairwells, archways and bridges. Promoted as “true” and “drawn from life,” these narratives render the city into recognizable tropes associated with dirt, darkness, and abjection, derived in part from “literary” fiction, such as Dickens’ Oliver Twist (serialised 1837-9), and Evangelical “waif” novels, such as Hesba Stretton’s Jessica’s First Prayer (serialised 1867).1 Barnardo’s promotional literature may also constitute an emergent Victorian genre focussing on pervasive urban threat, as Tina Young Choi points out, unveiling the city’s filth and poverty in modes that “nearly always” collapse into representations of “lower-class space.”2 In this essay I consider Barnardo’s treatment of the site known as “The Queen’s Shades,”3 an actual “doss” familiar to Barnardo in the 1860s, formed by a mound of discarded boxes and detritus near the “old” Billingsgate fish market on Lower Thames Street.