Victorian London was a difficult place to survive at the best of times, but when crippling poverty limited a person's ability to cope there were very few options.
The Starlings of Chatham Street is the story of a handful of women whose fate brought them to live within the cold, cruel walls of the Chatham Street Workhouse.
Carrie MacDuff, a young Scottish woman, was left at the gate of the Chatham Street Workhouse by her husband, Daniel, shortly after their marriage. They had come to London in search of a better life, but quickly found themselves unprepared. Now, alone and frightened, Carrie has little idea where her husband has gone or if he intends to return for her as promised.
Lizzie Barnes entered the Chatham Street Workhouse with her pregnant sister, Ruth, three years before. When she lost both her sister and the child in childbirth, she was left alone in the world. Assigned to work in the workhouse infirmary, she must watch first hand the suffering of the aged and infirm while ministering what little aide she can to the sick and injured.
Victoria Craig, the daughter of a wealthy gentleman, enjoyed the luxuries of life until she made the tragic mistake of falling in love with the man intended for her older sister Margaret. When her attempt to elope was discovered, she was brought to the Chatham Street Workhouse to be disposed of by her own father whose shame for her was so complete he wanted nothing more than to forget her.
Eva Gimley, acting matron of the workhouse and a spinster in her late twenties, works alongside her short tempered, judgmental brother. She is very plain but has hopes that one day she will find a home and husband of her own away from the workhouse. When the only object of her affection, the workhouse vicar, announces his engagement to a well-to-do debutant and her brother announces his engagement to an inmate with her sights set on being matron, Eva must face the fact that she is merely one step above an inmate herself.
Can four women from different walks of life find solace in their friendship and freedom outside the walls of the Chatham Street Workhouse?