Ashurst Home for Girls, Ashurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

The Ashurst Home for Girls was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1884 at Church Villa, Ashurst, near Tunbridge Wells. On March 28th, 1884, the home received its official certification to operate as an Industrial School, allowing magistrates to place girls there for offences such as vagrancy, begging, living in a brothel or associating with prostitutes, or having committed an imprisonable offence while under the age of twelve. The home provided accommodation for up to 18 girls, aged from 12 to 14.

The girls at Ashurst did all the work of the house including cleaning, cooking and laundry. They were also taught needlework and knitting. Official inspections, though, highlighted ongoing problems at the home. The building was in poor repair and had a damp basement, the drainage was bad, and the quality of the water supply suspect. There was also been a high turnover of staff at the home. Eventually, the Society decided that it was fighting a losing battle and the home was closed in June, 1888.


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.


  • 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.)
  • 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)
  • 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.