St Martin's Home for Girls, Hereford, Herefordshire
St Martin's Home for Penitents, as it was originally known, was established in 1864 as a Magdalen Home to 'reclaim fallen women', from the age of 15 upwards. St Martin's was run by the Church Penitentiary Association and was sometimes referred to as the Diocesan Penitentiary.
The Home occupied premises at Walnut Tree Lane (now Walnut Tree Avenue), Hereford, where up to 20 women could be housed. Those coming from within the Hereford diocese, were admitted free, while those from outside paid a fee of £5. Inmates were expected to remain two years and, as well as receiving religious instruction, were occupied in needlework and laundry work.
On 26th October, 1943, St Martin's was formally certified to operate as an Approved School for Girls. The premises could accommodate 20 Junior Girls, aged under 15 at their date of admission. On 21st March, 1951, the School's managers gave notice of their intention to give up its certificate.
The home then became a Mother and Baby Home, jointly run by Herefordshire County Council and the Hereford Diocesan Moral Welfare Association. It provided provided ante- and post-natal care to pregnant young women. The minimum length of stay was six weeks before confinement and six weeks after, with the maximum length of stay being six months.
St Martin's is believed to have finally closed in the 1960s. The buildings no longer survive and modern housing now occupies the site.
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.
- Herefordshire Archives and Record Centre, Fir Tree Lane, Hereford HR2 6LA. Has some correspondence and papers.
- Bartley, Paula Prostitution: Prevention and Reform in England, 1860-1914 (2000, Routledge)
- Finnegan, Frances Poverty and Prostitution: A Study of Victorian Prostitutes in York (1979, CUP)
- Hyland, Jim Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1994, Whiting and Birch)
- Millham, S, Bullock, R, and Cherrett, P After Grace - Teeth: a comparative study of the residential experience of boys in Approved Schools (1975, Chaucer Publishing)
- The Therapeutic Care Journal — has a number of articles relating to Approved Schools.
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