Friday, October 22, 2010

The Consanguinitarium, Earl Howe Street, Leicester

This building, to be found in a back street near Leicester railway station, was a surprise discovery. Who or what is a consanguinitarium?

It turns out that the Leicester Consanguinitarium was a charitable foundation established by the architect John Johnson. It was originally built in Southgate Street (presumably somewhere near the modern Southgates) and was described thus in an article by Jack Simmons for the Leicestershire Archaeological Society:
It comprised first a block of four houses, which he put up "in Southgate Street, near the Water-house pump ... on the spot where he was born"; and behind, partly screened by this block, the Consanguinitarium. This was a charitable foundation for the benefit of his relatives. It was a battlemented stone building, with Gothic windows, containing five small houses.
Life at the Consanguinitarium does not sound a barrel of laughs. As Simmons goes on to record, the inhabitants were hedged around with a remarkable list of regulations.

A second article, by Terry Cocks in a recent issue of the newsletter of the Leicestershire Historical and Archaeological Society (p.2), says:
In 1878 a new Consanguinitarium, designed by his great-great-nephew Robert Johnson Goodacre (1826-1904) was built in Earl Howe Street; this building was sold some years ago, but the charity is still extant.
This removal and rebuilding is recorded by a plaque at Earl Howe Street.

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