Ellen Wren was born into a poor family in Shirley in 1845. As an adult, she was a washerwoman, a prostitute and a petty criminal. In 1894 she was living in Simnel Street and died from choking on her own vomit after drinking gin. Her body was not found for several days.

There was outrage about the conditions she had died in, and as a result the council started to demolish the slums around Simnel Street.

She is buried in a paupers' common grave in the Old Cemetery.

Ellen Wren House in Westbrook Way, the offices of Chapter 1 housing charity, is named after her.

Further reading:

Dilapidated Housing and Housing Policy in Southampton 1890–1914, Southampton Record Series, Vol. XXIX, ed. Doughty Martin (1986).

External links:


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