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  • Writer's picturePaullett Golden

Foundling Hospitals & Women's Homes in the 18th Century: Noach Cottage Inspiration

Publication Date: March 1, 2019

Supposing you're destitute after being turned out of the house: where might you go for aid?

Painting of a village

In The Baron and The Enchantress, we'll discover what has become of Lilith Chambers (introduced in The Earl and The Enchantress) and watch the sparks fly when she meets Walter Hobbs, Baron Collingwood. As a point of interest, this isn't the only book you'll find these two, as their legacy will live on in other series. You'll see this legacy as a key plot point in the first book of The Sirens series: A Counterfeit Wife. Know that this research post has a lot of spoilers, so if you want to read the book first, you probably should! Spoilers ahead!

We won't have much of an opportunity to see Noach Cottage in The Baron and The Enchantress because the plan will only be set into motion in this book, but the research conducted for their legacy is worth sharing, especially if you're looking forward to Lilith and Walter's tale.

Their legacy, as you'll learn more about in their book and in The Sirens series, is a home for women and children. They found Noach Cottage (named from the Hebrew spelling of Noah), which is a safe house for destitute women and orphans needing shelter, work, and education.

From the outside, Noach Cottage appears as a home for women and children, wherein children are educated for more than the workhouse and women are educated in useful skills for securing work. The inner workings of Noach Cottage are far more complex. Through a trusted and wide-reaching network, those at the cottage are able to be placed into employment or given characters/references for securing employment through an agency. The deeper side of Noach Cottage offers sanctuary for those in need of escape, which may include relocation and a new identity.

Such facilities for women and children exist today, but in 18th century England, there was no such place. Two facilities, however, came close: Magdalen Laundry/Asylum and Coram's Foundling Hospital.

Sketch of Magdalen Hospital in London
Magdalen Hospital in London

Magdalen Hospital was only for women, and almost exclusively for prostitutes. It functioned more as a workhouse than a sanctuary. The London location was first, but soon, more opened in Ireland, America, and other locations.

Coram's Foundling Hospital provided aid to orphans and was the initial inspiration for Noach Cottage. As a point of interest, during the 18th century, Handel became a key supporter of this hospital, even hosting charity concerts to raise money. Others have contributed in impressively large ways, especially Dickens during the Victorian era.

Sketch of Foundling Hospital in London
Foundling Hospital in London

And speaking of Charles Dickens, so inspired by the idea of Magdalen Laundry/Asylum and so moved by the work of the Foundling Hospital, in 1846 (55 years after The Baron and The Enchantress takes place), he joined forces with other social reformers to create Urania Cottage. Urania Cottage was, like Magdalen, for prostitutes, but the education and training provided to the women and children mirrors that of Lilith and Walter's Noach Cottage.

While Noach Cottage functions differently than these three historical inspirations, the combination of the three was the inspiration for Lilith and Walter's legacy, just as Handel's work with the Foundling Hospital provided inspiration for what the Duke of Annick will do for Noach Cottage in the future.

Sketch of Urania Cottage
Urania Cottage


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