St Monica's Home For Girls, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
The Waifs and Strays Society opened its St Monica's Home For Girls in 1911 at 37-39 Windmill Lane, Ashbourne. The property had been given to the Society by Mr and Mrs Peveril Turnbull in memory of their daughters, Monica and Dorothea, who had died in a fire at their home, Sandybrook Hall, Ashbourne. The official opening and dedication of St Monica's was performed by the Dean of Lichfield on August 9th, 1911.
The home could accommodate 30 girls aged from 5 upwards, with six places allocated to older girls who received training in cookery, laundry work and housework. As well as enabling them to contribute to the household work of the home, the skills they acquired would make them more employable in later life.
Mr and Mrs Turnbull remained closely involved with the home, its children providing a substitute for the daughters they had lost. After Mr Turnbull's death in 1926, Mrs Turnbull maintained her association with the home. In 1931, she took the girls on a seaside holiday to Southport. When the Second World War began in September 1939, she moved the girls into her home at Sandybrook Hall so that children from the Audenshaw home could be evacuated to St Monica's.
In around 1947, the home started to provide specialised care for children with physical disabilities. In the early 1970s, it was focusing on children with educational difficulties but by 1976 was again housing physically disabled youngsters in the 12 to 16 age range.
The home finally closed in 1986. From then until 2003, the property was occupied by the Ashbourne PNEU (Parents' National Education Union) School. It now hosts a local business centre.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by surname.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by date of birth.
- The Children's Society Records and Archive Centre is at Block A Floor 2, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clement's Road, London, England SE16 4DG (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Files for children admitted to its homes after September 1926 were microfilmed in the 1980s and the originals destroyed. Some post-1926 files had already been damaged or destroyed during a flood. The Society's Post-Adoption and Care Service provides access to records, information, advice, birth record counselling, tracing and intermediary service for people who were in care or adopted through the Society.
- The Society has produced detailed catalogues of its records relating to disabled children, and of records relating to the Children's Union (a fundraising body mostly supported from the contributions of children).
- Bowder, Bill Children First: a photo-history of England's children in need (1980, Mowbray)
- Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society [Rudolfe, Edward de Montjoie] The First Forty Years: a chronicle of the Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society 1881-1920 (1922, Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society / S.P.C.K.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Morris, Lester The Violets Are Mine: Tales of an Unwanted Orphan (2011, Xlibris Corporation) — memoir of a boy growing up in several of the Society's homes (Princes Risborough, Ashdon, Hunstanton, Leicester) in the 1940s and 50s.
- Rudolf, Mildred de Montjoie Everybody's Children: the story of the Church of England Children's Society 1921-1948 (1950, OUP)
- Stroud, John Thirteen Penny Stamps: the story of the Church of England Children's Society (Waifs and Strays) from 1881 to the 1970s (1971, Hodder and Stoughton)
- Hidden Lives Revealed — the story of the children who were in the care of The Children's Society in late Victorian and early 20th Century Britain.
- The Children's Society
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.