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.

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, 1902. © Peter Higginbotham

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.

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, 1903. © Peter Higginbotham

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, 1903. © Peter Higginbotham

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.

Emigrants from St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, 1912. © Peter Higginbotham

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, c.1921. © Peter Higginbotham

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, c.1925. © Peter Higginbotham

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, c.1928. © Peter Higginbotham

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, c.1931. © Peter Higginbotham

St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter, date unknown. © Peter Higginbotham

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.

Former St Lawrence's Home for Girls, Exeter.

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.