Jane de Brissac Frederica PHELPS 1842 - 1926
Born 19th August 1842, Funchal, Madeira.
Died 6th November 1926, Camberwell, London. Buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking. Surrey
Born five years after a string of three brothers, Jane was quite a tomboy and even when 15 was still climbing the mulberry tree. She had a donkey which she rode and also tried to teach to perform tricks. Fluent in Portuguese, she used many words and phrases from that language in her correspondence with her siblings. Jane became an enthusiastic photographer, helped and encouraged by two local residents. She also took up croquet which became a craze for a time.
She was the only daughter to be sent to a formal school, Crieff College in Scotland, after which she spent some years in England, staying with her grandmother and aunt at Bramblebury. Like her sister Clara, she was sent to Mr Jago when she developed a weakness in her back, which was successfully treated. She finally left Madeira when her parents retired to England and lived with them at the Carmo, Clapham until she established her Orphanage.
Frances Roper, born Hubbard, writes in Victorian Hangover:
"In those days no provision was made by local authorities for children who had one parent living, or who simply were in bad homes, and it was on these that Jane concentrated. From small beginnings the Orphanage grew rapidly, till for many years she had over a hundred children, and a big establishment in Kilburn. At about the turn of the century, as public responsibility began to awaken, the numbers gradually lessened and she moved from Kilburn to a large house near Peckham Rye, where she lived till her death, housing on an average about forty children. The Orphanage was conducted on strict Conventual lines, and was I believe, affiliated in some way to one of the Anglican Sisterhoods."
L. to R. back row: 1, Jane PHELPS
L. to R. back row: 3, Matron (holding dog)
L. to R. back row: 4...8, house girls.
Seated extreme left: Violet OAKLEY
Seated extreme right: Miss McGregor
School children in summer outdoor dresses.
Aunt Janey, as she became known by all the younger generations, maintained a regular correspondence with her sister Harriet in Natal, and from these letters we see that she managed to lead quite a busy social life and kept contact with numerous members of the extended family, many of whom were drawn in to help in various ways with the orphanage and its much-needed fund-raising events. Lucy Violet Oakley was a niece who lived at the orphanage for some years, while Frances Ann Hubbard spent more than a year teaching the orphans and doing a lot of other jobs as well. She gives a very valuable account of Aunt Janey and the orphanage in Victorian Hangover.
Jane died at the orphanage in 1926, aged 84, leaving her estate to Ermenild Neale, Superior of the Society of Saint Margaret, East Grinstead.
Victorian Hangover, by Frances Roper was published by Judith Frances Hubbard in 2018
Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Camberwell 1892
Orphanage of the Infant Saviour, 27, Barry Road, East Dulwich, S.E.
Object: —To educate for domestic service, girls who have lost one or both parents.
Admission: —By application to the Secretary with certificates of baptism and health. Girls are admitted between the ages of 2 and 7. Payment entrance fee £2, and £3 5s. quarterly in advance; or £1 19s. quarterly, if nominated by a subscriber of £5 5s. per annum, or donor of £50, or parish subscribing £20 per annum. The latter can nominate four children at a time, the former only one.
Managers: —Miss J. de B. F. Phelps and Miss Violet Oakley.
Income: —Charitable contributions and payments for inmates.
Income for 1891: —£514 6s. 2d.
Expenditure:— £517 19s. 4d.