Hidden away in the heart of Marylebone, along the wonderfully named Grotto Passage (there's a really narrow entrance off Paddingon Street) is what was once a Ragged School. It survives among the spartan splendour of the Howard de Walden estate, an early exercise in social housing - and indeed Octavia Hill began her work on housing for the poor in an adjoining street.
The Grotto was - all this courtesy of Caroline's Miscellany - a landmark in eighteenth century London, a sea shell feature and pleasure ground on what was then the edges of the city.
Nothing survives of it but the name. But what a wonderful name!
The ragged school is the white building on the left here - with the passage on to Paddington Street just visible as that dark hole at the end.
It seems, and again this comes from Caroline's Miscellany, that the school - a reformatory really - made quite a habit of shipping out its young charges, particularly to Australia and Canada.
You get a wonderful view of the courtyard and signage from the Italian snack bar next door - that's how I spied it this afternoon. It's worth a visit.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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