Victorian London - Education - Schools - Royal Freemason's School for Female Children

The anniversary festival of this excellent charity was celebrated in Freemasons' Hall, on Wednesday, the 24th ult., the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Ingestre, P.S.G.W.. in the chair. After the customary loyal toasts had been drunk, the noble chairman introduced in terms of touching eulogy, the memory of H. U. H. the Duke of Sussex, late M.W.G.M. ; his iordship reminding the company that his royal highness had been upwards of thirty years at the head of the craft, and had warmly supported the charity. In proposing the toast of Success to the Royal Freemasons' School for Female Children, the noble lord emphatically stated that the education afforded by this institution was grounded upon the principles of religion, morality, and industry; and that whilst upwards of 550 children had, by their character in after life, added a lustre to freemasonry, there had been but one blot on the bright escutcheon, and in that case there was much more to pity than blame. His lordship alluded also to the circumstance that in the school of 65 children there is but one servant, and that the appearance of the objects of the society's bounty was a fair prototype of that which he found at home. His lordship then highly commended the matron and her two assistants, and requested the ladies present to visit the school establishment, and to trust no men, not even masons, when the welfare of so many children depended upon the instruction they might receive.
    Sixty-four of the children were then introduced, wearing their usual dress, a black ribbon round their necks, the masonic arms on their sleeves, bound with black, and a black ribbon on their bonnets. Their appearance excited deep interest in the company, and many a bright eye was suffused with tears of affection and pity. The children sang an appropriate hymn composed by Sir George Smart, grand organist, who kindly gave his services of directing the youthful choir. The gallery was occupied by nearly a hundred elegantly-dressed ladies, to whom the children were introduced after leaving the hail, and it was truly gratifying to witness the many endearing marks of affection shown towards the younglings.
    The noble Chairman next proposed "The Boys' School, and the President and Board of Stewards;" in returning thanks for which the President reminded the meeting that a granddaughter of the founder of the institution had just passed before them as one of the recipients of their bounty. He added that a child had been recently admitted whose father very lately had sat at that table, and who had been a life governor, steward, and annual contributor to the charity during his lifetime.
    The company numbered 170, and the sum of £560 was subscribed. 
    The annexed engraving shows the neat façade of the school-house, erected by the governors in 1793, near the Obelisk, in St. George's, Southwark, at the expense of more than £3000, it being calculated to accommodate nearly one hundred children. The charity was founded in 1788, for maintaining, clothing, and educating an unlimited number of female orphans and children of reduced Freemasons. The establishment has been munificently supported, so as to have enabled the governors to augment the number · of children received into the institution from 15 to 65: they are received into the school between the ages of eight and eleven, and are educated, clothed, and wholly supported till they attain the age of fifteen years.

from The Illustrated London News, 1843