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Elizabeth House

Elizabeth House was built in 1928-30 to the designs of Richardson and Gill and at the instigation of the Mothercraft Training Society (formerly the Babies of the Empire Society). The new building was opened by Queen Elizabeth, the wife of George VI, who was herself a new mother at this time: the future Elizabeth II was born in 1926, Princess Margaret in 1930. The hostel was originally called the Princess Elizabeth Hostel in honour of the four-year-old future queen. The first matron was Mabel Liddiard CBE, author of The Mothercraft Manual (1924), president of the Royal College of Midwives and founder of the Mothercraft Training Society. Liddiard trained under Sir Truby King, a pioneer of the child welfare movement.

Elizabeth House

1930 by Richardson and Gill
Listed Grade II in 2005

The Mothercraft Training Society built Elizabeth House to encourage innovative methods of baby-care. New and prospective mothers would stay in the hostel for a fixed term and, under the tutelage of live-in nurses, learn to breast-feed at regular intervals, look after babies in airy and light surroundings, follow dietary plans which enriched breast-milk, and recognise symptoms of common causes of infant mortality such as malnourishment and diarrhoea.

A programme of lectures and open days also trained external nurses and local new mothers in the principles of baby care. In addition, the Society managed a health clinic and day-centre.

The building, which survives mostly intact, is in a clean and well-crafted Neo-Georgian style, featuring a wide multi-storey veranda and suntrap plan as a formal representation of the work the Society promulgated.

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