Nazareth House, Londonderry (Derry), Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
A local woman named Mrs Waters left £7,000 in her will to the Bishop of Derry to found a home for the poor of the city which was then usually referred to as Londonderry. In 1891, "Sunnyside", a property in Bishop Street, was bought for the purpose and the running of the home was handed to the Sisters of Nazareth, who took up residence in February 1892. The official opening of the establishment, known as Nazareth House, took place on 2 March 1892.
As was usual with Nazareth Houses, the home accommodated the aged and destitute poor, together with orphan, deserted or "incurable" Roman Catholic children. Children were admitted from the age of two, with girls able to stay until the age of 14, while the boys were moved elsewhere at the age of 7. From 1922 to 1982, the Sisters operated a separate home for boys at Termonbacca and the Bishop Street home being used just for the girls.
In 1898, the some adjoining land was purchased and the home was extended. A primary school was established on the premises which was also used by local children. The main Bishop Street building had classrooms, bathrooms and playrooms on its ground floor, a nursery on the first floor, and dormitories on the upper two floors, in each of which up to 40 children slept. In the 1970s, the dormitories were converted into apartments so that the children could be housed in "family" groups, although for some years afterwards main meals continued to be eaten all together in the main dining room.
The children's home ceased operation in 1998. It has been estimated that through its lifetime, the home houses a total of 2,347 children, with between 60 and 100 in residence at any one time.
Provision of residential care for the elderly continued until September 2013, following a review of the facility by independent consultants and 18 months after the publication OF the findings of an inspection carried out by Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) into the quality of management at the home.
In 2014, the Derry Nazareth Home was one of thirteen institutions examined by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. Early on in the proceedings, lawyers issued apologies on behalf of the Sisters of Nazareth for any abuse residents had suffered while living in homes that they ran.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Sisters of Nazareth Archive, Nazareth House, 169-175 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8DB. The archivist is Christine Hughes. The archive contains material from the very beginnings of the order in the 1850s up until the present day. The archive is not open to the public and does not have facilities for personal searchers, although exceptions can be made for Sisters and for academic researchers. Enquiries are welcomed by post only for privacy and confidentiality reasons and replies are by also letter. There is no fee for dealing with enquiries, although donations to the Sisters are appreciated.
- Fothergill, Anne Memoirs of a Nazareth House Girl (2013, Quoin Publishing). Memories of the Middlesbrough Nazareth House.
- Gray-Wilson, Shirley It isn't Always Raining: Children in Care, 1939-1948 (2000). Life in the Carlisle and Newcastle Nazareth Houses.
- Kelly, Judith Rock Me Gently: A Memoir Of A Convent Childhood (2006, Bloomsbury). A memoir of life at Bexhill Nazareth House in the early 1950s. The factual veracity of this book has been challenged, and charges of plagiarism levelled against the author (e.g. see Catholic Herald 2/9/2005). The introduction to the current edition of the book acknowledges some of these criticisms.
- Reilley, Frances Suffer The Little Children: The True Story of An Abused Convent Upbringing (2009, Orion). Memories of the Belfast Nazareth House.
- Nuns 'abused hundreds of children' (Guardian article 16/8/1998)
- Sisters of No Mercy (Guardian article 1/4/2003)
- Compensation for care homes abuse (BBC News item 15/8/2006)
- Sisters of Nazareth become second Catholic order to admit to child abuse (Guardian article 14/1/2014)
- Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told (Guardian article 27/1/2014)
- A Time for Penance? (BBC Scotland 'Frontline' TV feature on abuse in Scottish Nazareth Houses)
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