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Lewis & John Burtt - Hoxton Market, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 31.635 W 000° 04.952
30U E 702368 N 5712495
Quick Description: This brown plaque, erected by the London Borough of Hackney to Lewis and John Burtt, is attached to a building on the east side of Hoxton Market a square in east London.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/5/2014 6:25:07 AM
Waymark Code: WMN112
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bill&ben
Views: 0

Long Description:

The Life's Just a Disco blog tells us:

First of all I’d like to set the context here…

It’s the Victorian times and conditions were pretty grim for the poor. There was no help from the government and if you couldn’t look after yourself then you were sent to what was called a workhouse (imagine huge dark buildings, uniforms, horrible conditions and hard work for very little money… kind of like a prison for the poor). Harsh times

Unsurprisingly, people were terrified of being sent to the workhouse and some people tried to help the poor by providing food, shelter and education. Many churches were also involved in setting up Ragged Schools (schools for the very poor / beggar children). Two brothers, John and Lewis, were educated at such schools and between them they set up the Hoxton Mission, to give other neglected children the chance they had by offering food, clothing, schooling and sanctuary.

Their work started in a basement workshop, providing shelter, warmth, food and second-hand clothes to children gathered from street corners. An old pair of boots, a jacket, some dinner, a talk. All the things these kids were lacking could be found in this basement. Their work continued there, until in 1886 when funding allowed them to acquire premises in Hoxton Market. With a programme of bible classes, children’s clubs, women’s meetings and sunday services, the Mission became more than just a place for food. It provided love and friendship to the local people.

During the first world war (1914-1918), the mission played a vital role in helping families deal with the social conditions that war created and assisted with emigration in the post war years. The children who grew up during this period owed much to the love and kindness of these brothers, perhaps highlighted by the phrase “Daddy Burtt’s for dinner” which later became the title of a book by Rose Lowe, describing her life growing up in Hoxton and dependency on the free meals provided at the Mission.

Sadly, the second world war (1939-1945) brought tragedy to the Mission and on the night of 10th May 1941, oil bombs fell and it was destroyed by fire. The premises were rebuilt and re-opened in 1952, continuing its programme until it was closed in 1983 to make way for the development of Hoxton Market.

The vision that these brothers, who themselves had been rescued from the gutter, made over 100 years of good work possible. Known locally as the bishops of Hoxton, they had a plan to start something that mattered and they literally lived, breathed and died for the local people.

The reason why this story means so much to me is that these brothers are called John and Lewis Burtt. They’re in my family and it makes me incredibly proud to have their name. And I live in the very neighbourhood that their great work was carried out!

Their memory still lives on in various ways. There is a block of flats called “Burtt House” erected in their name by Pitfield st and the Burtt Memorial House in Bognor Regis. Today, the mission operates as a popular meat loving burger joint, aptly named Meat Mission where you can swing by for a meat fix and a Daddy Burtt cocktail. Shaken not stirred.

The following is an extract from an article which appeared in the Daily Chronicle on 18th January 1912:

“The two brothers in charge of this work are almost the happiest men I have ever known. The circumstances of their private lives are not easy; they are decidedly very poor men; a labourer in a country town would not care to change places with them. But these two brothers laugh, rub their hands and utter as cheerful a “good bless you” as you will hear in Christian Europe. One of them, the honourary superintendent, who earns his own bread as a harness-maker, has often been seen shoeless and coatless in Hoxton Market. He literally does give the coat of his own back and the shoes off his feet to a man in greater need than himself. And he laughs and says “Why not?”. It is extraordinary how men whose existence is permanently and inextricably entangled in such hideous mystery can be so cheerful”

Blue Plaque managing agency: London Borough of Hackney

Individual Recognized: Lewis and John Burtt

Physical Address:
Hoxton Market
Shoreditch
London, United Kingdom


Web Address: [Web Link]

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