St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, Somerset

St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, at Frome, was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in around 1894 as a replacement for the Sunnyside Home in Frome. The new home was formally dedicated on October 4th, 1898, by the Bishop of Bath. St Aldhelm's could accommodate up to 45 boys aged from 8 to 14. The new building also incorporated a self-contained Printing Department, continuing the work that had begun at Sunnyside.

During the First World War, the home was taken over for a time as a military hospital and the children transferred to other homes.

As at other boys' home, St Aldhelm's was active in the Boy Scouts movement and had its own Scout band.

Scout band at St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, c.1912. © Peter Higginbotham

Boys as the home helped with the household chores. At mealtimes, preparing the pudding course was a particularly popular job.

Pudding time at St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, c.1927. © Peter Higginbotham

At Christmas, the boys would stage their own shows such as 'Aladdin' in 1925.

'Aladdin' at St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, c.1924. © Peter Higginbotham

Summer holidays usually included a visit to the seaside such as a trip to Weymouth in 1924.

St Aldhelm's Boys at Weymouth, c.1924. © Peter Higginbotham

Smallest boy and senior apprentice at St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, c.1926. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1945, the home received the boys from the Rudolf Memorial Home, at Farnham, where children from the Banstead home had been evacuated during the Second World War.

St Aldhelm's closed in 1951, although the Printing Works continued in operation until 1962.

The surviving Oakfield Road buildings have now been converted to flats.

Former St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Former St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Former St Aldhelm's Home for Boys, Frome, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

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.