St Hilda's Home for Girls, Beckenham, Kent

The St Hilda's Home for Girls was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1905 at 13 Crescent Road, Beckenham. The official opening took place on 26th October with the Bishop of Rochester performing the dedication ceremony. The property, a former convalescent home, accommodated up to 30 girls aged from 7 to 16. The initial residents came from the Society's St Hilda's Home in Marylebone, which then became a receiving home for children coming into the Society's care.

St Hilda's Home for Girls, Beckenham, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

St Hilda's Home for Girls, Beckenham, c.1921. © Peter Higginbotham

The Waifs and Strays homes often provided their children with a holiday by making an exchange visit to another home. In 1922, Beckenham did a swap with the St Gabriels Home in Brighton. The picture below shows the Beckenham girls safely arrived at Brighton.

Brighton visit by St Hilda's Home for Girls, Beckenham, c.1922. © Peter Higginbotham

St Hilda's Home for Girls, Beckenham, c.1924. © Peter Higginbotham

The home was closed in 1939 and evacuated to a rented property at 74 Richmond Road, Worthing. The Beckenham premises were then used for a short period as a Receiving Nursery for young children who were preparing to be evacuated.

In 1946, the establishment re-opened as St Hilda's Nursery, in which role it operated until finally closing in 1975.

The property no longer exists and modern flats now occupy the site.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

Bibliography

  • 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.