St Michael and All Angels Home / Reformatory, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
The St Michael and All Angels Home, also known as St Michael's Home and Penitentiary, and the Worcester Diocesan House of Mercy, was established in Leamington Spa in 1854 by the Church Penitentiary Association. It provided accommodation and training for what were variously termed 'fallen women' or 'immoral girls' in premises at 25 Charlotte Street, Leamington Spa. In 1884, the home housed up to 60 girls and women aged from 15 to 25; in 1900, its capacity was recorded as being 32, aged from 15 to 30. Those who were 'destitute and friendless' were taken in without charge, while for those placed by relatives or friends, a payment was requested. In 1884, this was 3s. 6d. a week; by 1907 it was set at £5 a year.
In its early years, the home was run by the Mission Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus. From 1884, the home was run by the Community of St John Baptist, an Anglican order of women based at Clewer, near Windsor in Berkshire.
The girls were given training for entry into domestic service, which chiefly focused on laundry work and needlework. Much of the home's running costs were covered by the revenue from its laundry operation.
On October 12, 1911, St Michael's was officially certified as a Reformatory, allowing it to take girls aged from 14 to 16, committed by magistrates as an alternative to prison. It seems that the home received very girls by this route and resigned its certificate in April, 1913. The few girls who had been committed were transferred to the Liverpool Girls' Reformatory.
In the 1930s, however, there was a steep decline in this income and in 1938, it was decided to move from Charlotte Street to more modern premises at 6 Milverton Hill, Leamington. At this date, the home was described as giving teaching, guidance, and employment to girls aged 12 t 16 who came from unhappy homes. The girls usually stayed for two years and received training for domestic service. Girls at the home were also engaged in weaving, embroidery, and toy-making.
The Clewer Sisters gave up the their involvement in St Michael's in 1950. Efforts to find another order to run the home were unsuccessful, and a voluntary local committee was formed to take on management of the establishment.
Neither of the St Michael's premises now survives.
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.
- The Berkshire Record Office, 9 Coley Avenue, Reading, Berkshire RG1 6AF. Hold the Clewer Sisters' archives.
- Carpenter, Mary Reformatory Schools, for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes, and for Juvenile Offenders (1851, General Books)
- Carlebach, Julius Caring for Children in Trouble (1970, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Abel Smith, Doroth Crouchfield: A History of the Herts Training School 1857-1982 (2008, Able Publishing)
- Garnett, Emmeline Juvenile offenders in Victorian Lancashire: W J Garnnett and the Bleasdale Reformatory (2008, Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University)
- Hicks, J.D. The Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory, Market Weighton (1996, East Yorkshire Local History Society)
- Slocombe, Ivor Wiltshire Reformatory for Boys, Warminster, 1856-1924 (2005, Hobnob Press)
- Duckworth, J.S. The Hardwicke Reformatory School, Gloucestershire (in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1995, Vol. 113, 151-165)
- Red Lodge Museum, Bristol — a former girls' reformatory.
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