St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, Kent

The St Michael's Home for Boys was founded in 1855 by Miss Marie Anderson and her sister. It began life in a small cottage but moved, in 1861, to a much larger property at the edge of Chislehurst Common. The home could then accommodate around 30 boys aged from 3 to 12, with Miss Anderson as the resident superintendent.

St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, c.1895. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1895, the home was taken over by the Waifs and Strays Society. The boys attended the nearby school. They were also taught needlework and embroidery, and made items such as cotton mats and netted string bags. Their work was displayed, to much admiration, as part of the St Michael's Day celebrations held at the home on September 29th each year.

Master, matron and boys at St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, c.1895. © Peter Higginbotham

Nursery children at St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, c.1900. © Peter Higginbotham

Christmas entertainment at St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, 1905. © Peter Higginbotham

St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, c.1906. © Peter Higginbotham

St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, c.1930. © Peter Higginbotham

Fancy-dress costumes at St Michael's Home for Boys, Chislehurst, c.1920. © Peter Higginbotham

During the Second World War, the home was initially evacuated to a large house known as Guy's Cliffe, on Coventry Road, Warwick, but the boys were subsequently distributed amongst other Society homes.

After the war, St Michael's was used as a home for young children until its final closure in around 1975.

The property is now in private residential use.

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.