Diocesan Home for Girls, Longwell Green, Bristol, Gloucestershire

The Diocesan Home for Girls, run by the Waifs and Strays Society, was officially opened on October 2nd, 1903, by the Bishop of Bristol. The home was located in a large house known as Oldland Hall, on Bath Road, Longwell Green, which the Society initially rented.

Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, c.1903. © Peter Higginbotham

First inmates of Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, 1902. © Peter Higginbotham

First inmates at opening of Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, 1902. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1904, Admiral Arden Close purchased the property and donated it to the Society in memory of his recently deceased wife. The establishment then became known as Admiral and Mrs Arden Close Memorial Home for Girls.. The home could accommodate 30 girls aged from 7 to 14.

'Mother' and some of the residents at Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, c.1927. © Peter Higginbotham

The typical daily routine at the home was as follows:

6.30am Rise and wash.
6.45am Prayers in the dormitories.
7.00am Make beds and clean dormitories.
7.45am Breakfast, followed by prayers in the Chapel.
8.3Oam Leave for school at St Anne's C of E School at Oldland (1.5 miles away)
12.30pm Return to the home for dinner then walk back to school.
4.30pm Return to the home after school. Wash.
5.00pm Tea followed by playtime time.
6.00pm Younger children have bath then go to bed.
6.30pm Older children attend evening prayers in the chapel.
7.15pm Older children retire to bed.

Playtime at Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

Inmates and matron at Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, 1913. © Peter Higginbotham

Dinner-time at Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

Sewing and mending at Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

Dormitory at Diocesan Home for Girls, Bristol, c.1908. © Peter Higginbotham

The home closed in 1930 and moved to new premises at Box in Wiltshire which initially adopted the Arden Close named, but later came Sunnyside Nursery.

Oldland Hall has now been converted into flats.

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.