Ayahs’ Home on shortlist for a blue plaque as Hackney Museum explores its history
A house in King Edward’s Rd could soon be embellished with a new blue plaque to commemorate its roots as a refuge to thousands of abandoned Indian migrant nannies in the 19th to mid 20th Century.
Known as Ayahs, the nannies were employed by British families living in India. Following the 1857 Rebellion many Ayahs’ travelled to the UK with the British families they were employed by and others were brought to the UK to be placed in families living in the UK because their nursing and caring skills were in great demand. However, many Ayahs were then abandoned and left destitute without a home, family or income once their service was completed.
Sanctuary for the women came in the form of The Ayahs’ Home set up by humanitarian philanthropists concerned for their welfare. A forgotten history paints a sketchy timeline of the first Ayahs’ Home opening in Aldgate between 1825 and 1891, closing due to administrative inadequacies, and reopening in Hackney after a campaign from the women from the London City Mission.
This important part of Hackney’s history is being revealed thanks to the work of Farhanah Mamoojee, who is campaigning for the blue plaque which is now ‘under consideration’ on the English Heritage shortlist. With a background in the History of Art, Farhanah works for Sotheby’s art auction house and has collaborated with the Hackney Museum and the Yoniverse Collective to ensure the history of Ayahs is remembered.
Over a series of free events including a poetry workshop, performances, and a visual exhibition, the Ayahs’ Home will finally be celebrated during International Women’s weekend on Saturday 7 March.
“Knowing the Ayahs’ Home found its place in Hackney is a fine example of our borough’s reputation for providing a welcoming and safe refuge for people from all over the world and its tradition for championing equalities and women's rights. Farhanah Mamojee, Hackney Museum and the Yoniverse Collective are all to be congratulated for presenting the story of the Ayahs’ Home in such an eloquent way both within the museum and complemented by Farhanah’s campaign for a blue plaque on the house on King Edward’s Rd”.
Due to the excitement of the event all free tickets have been snapped up, however, you can still attend on a standing room only basis. Events begin from 11:00 am at Hackney Museum, 1 Reading Lane, E8 1GQ.
Notes for Editors
Find out more about Hackney Museum.
Follow the Ayahs' Home Project on Instagram
For more information on the event visit the Eventbright page Lost Histories: Ayahs In London
Visit the English Heritage site for more information on Blue Plaques in the UK