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By the early nineteenth century, the problem of abandoned children in urban areas, especially London, began to reach alarming proportions. The workhouse system, instituted in 1834, although often brutal, was an attempt at the time to house orphans as well as other vulnerable people in society who could not support themselves in exchange for work. Conditions, especially for the women and children, were so bad as to cause an outcry among the social reform-minded middle-class; some of Charles Dickens’ most famous novels, including Oliver Twist, highlighted the plight of the vulnerable and the often abusive conditions that were prevalent in the London orphanages.In 1756, the House of Commons resolved that all children offered should be received, that local receiving places should be appointed all over the country, and that the funds should be publicly guaranteed. A basket was accordingly hung outside the hospital; the maximum age for admission was raised from two months to twelve, and a flood of children poured in from country workhouses.