St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, Devon
In November 1902, the Waifs and Strays Society opened its St Lawrence's Home for Girls at 49 Polsloe Road, Exeter.
The home had previously been located as Bartholomew Street East where it had been known as St Olave's. The larger premises at Polsloe Road were provided rent-free by the Rev. A. Everett as a memorial to his father, the late Rector of St Lawrence. Much of the home's furniture was also included with the gift. The dedication of the home by the Bishop of Exeter was scheduled to take place on February 2nd but at the least moment was 'postponed indefinitely'. St Lawrence's could accommodate 30 girls, aged from 6 upwards.
In common with many of the Society's other homes, small parties from St Lawrence's were despatched to begin new lives in Canada. A contingent making the crossing in 1912 is shown in the picture below.
In 1941, the home was evacuated to Ruffold House on Coly Road, Colyton, Devon. Following the Second World War, the Polsloe Road premises re-opened under the name of St Lawrence's Reception and Intermediate Home. It finally closed in 1956.
The property has now been converted to flats.
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 Unit 25, Springfield House, 5 Tyssen Street, London E8 2LZ (email: email@example.com). 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.