Knebworth / St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, Hertfordshire

The Knebworth Home for Boys was founded in 1888 by the Rev. Herbert Jones, a Rector from London who, for the reasons of his health, had moved to the Knebworth's country setting. Having previously worked with impoverished children, he decided to set up the home in Rectory Cottage, opposite the village school. The establishment, which operated under the aegis of the Waifs and Strays Society, was opened in September, 1888, and housed six orphan and destitute boys from London, aged from 6 to 12 years. Mrs Smith was matron of the home

Knebworth Home for Boys, Knebworth, c.1890.

The boys attended the village school and also tended the home's garden, producing a good supply of fruit and vegetables.

Knebworth Home for Boys, Knebworth, c.1907. © Peter Higginbotham

Knebworth Home for Boys, Knebworth, c.1914. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Home for Boys, Knebworth, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

A need for more space led to the decision to build new premises for the home which was closed from 1912 to 1914 while its construction was carried out. The new building, located on the London Road in 'new' Knebworth, was designed by Mr E.J. May. It was formally opened by Lady Lytton on 27th May, 14, with Archdeacon Gibbs performing the ceremony to dedicate the home as St Alban's Home for Boys. The home could now accommodate 40 boys aged from 5 to 14.

Architect's design for new St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, 1912. © Peter Higginbotham

St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, c.1914. © Peter Higginbotham

Opening of new St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, 1914. © Peter Higginbotham

First inmates of new St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, 1914. © Peter Higginbotham

Like many other such homes, St Alban's formed its own Boy Scout troop.

St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, c.1927. © Peter Higginbotham

St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, c.1929. © Peter Higginbotham

The home continued in use until 1975. In more recent times, a pre-school group occupied the building. The property was demolished in 2014.

Former St Alban's Home for Boys, Knebworth, 2009.

Former St Alban's Home for Boys undergoing demolition, Knebworth, 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.