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Care and Conflict

The Story of the Jewish Orphanage at Norwood

Lawrence Cohen

Norwood, an Anglo-Jewish childcare institution founded in the late nineteenth century, was one of several hundred such institutions in the UK, but the only Jewish one. Throughout its history, Norwood had the unusual task of adapting its childcare approach to both British and Jewish concerns. This book offers a unique study of one residential child institution within the broader British context, tracing the development of the institution and changing concepts of childcare over nearly one hundred years.
The story of Norwood is told chronologically, beginning with its origins in the early nineteenth century and its growth before the First World War. The inter-war years saw a period of stagnation that paved the way for the post-war revolution in institutional childcare, the demise of the orphanage idea and, with it, the demolition of Norwood. The book provides a narrative of the rise and fall of the childcare institution as much as the story of Norwood.
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Chapter 4 The Growth of Norwood Institutionalism: The Residential Model under Attack


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The Growth of Norwood Institutionalism: The Residential Model under Attack

The eve of the First World War marked a change in outlook towards institutionalism at Norwood. The institutional one-upmanship ‘to outdistance everything’ that had been a feature of the late Victorian period was now called into question by a new discourse that questioned the institution. At the commemoration service of Faudel-Phillips in 1923, Norwood secretary, David Spero spoke of the Extension as ‘a longstanding memorial of his Presidential labours’. In the grandiose vision of Norwood ‘he set to work on the big scale which alone contented him, no matter the task in hand.’ He had resigned in 1918 after twenty-five years and the measure of his success as President of a Children’s Home was judged by the large sums – £21,000 for the 1895 Centenary Appeal and a further £12,000 in 1897 – he had raised in support of Norwood. Largely through him Mrs Jane Gabriel donated the money for the Gabriel Home. Yet for all his fundraising success ‘he had not lived to see his noble vision of a newer, larger, more modern orphanage realised’. That vision, his dream of an institution housing 600 children, was outmoded by the time of his death.1

An anonymous writer in 1918 put forward a radical new scheme stating that Norwood was ‘extravagant in upkeep and constructed on lines inconsistent with modern ideas of orphan treatment. Instead of having 350 children and...

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