‘No separation of the sexes except by means of curtains’

Not all Surrey lodging houses complied readily with the authorities.

In 1874 Matthew McCarthy, the keeper of the Grove Road Lodging House, Warwick Town, twice failed to make the alterations required for the house to be licensed. The report books show that only when Harriett Vinell took over as keeper in the following year did the modifications and the registration progress smoothly.

At the Lodging House, Goosepool, in Chertsey, the keeper, Stephano Capaldi was operating without a license in 1893. The registers show that his house occupied three adjoining properties and had six bedrooms with beds for 35 men and women. The license was initially deferred because there was ‘no separation of the sexes except by means of curtains’. Middle-class commentaries on common lodging houses displayed great concern about inappropriate sexual relationships.

Capaldi’s wife, Scholastica, was the next keeper of the Lodging House, and subsequent keepers also had the same surname. Keeping a lodging house was often a family business.


A night inspection discovers lodgers lying together in a dirty, unfurnished room.
Interior of a London Lodging House, Illustrated London News, October 22 1853, p. 352.

Register of Common Lodging Houses,
Chertsey, 1891-1983, p. 4,
Surrey History Centre, 8125/1.



The Register shows that the Lodging House, Goosepool, has not made the alterations necessary to receive a license in 1893. Register of Common Lodging Houses, Chertsey, 1891-1983, p. 4, Surrey History Centre, 8125/1.


Harriet Vinell takes over as keeper of the Lodging House in Grove Road, Warwick Town, February 14 1875. Borough of Reigate Watch Committee 1869-1876, February 14 1875, Surrey History Centre, CC98/22/11.


The Grove Road Lodging House was in this short terrace until the 1940s. Detail from OS XXVI.16 First Edition 1872, Surrey History Centre.


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