St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, near Kendal, Westmorland

The St Mark's Home for Boys was founded in 1882 by the Rev. Charles Whitaker, Vicar of Natland, near Kendal. On 23rd January, 1886, the home was accredited as a Certified Home allowing it to receive boys boarded out by the workhouse authorities.

In 1894, the home was taken over by the Waifs and Strays Society and could accommodate 24 boys, aged from 6 to 12 years. It was formally re-accredited as a Certified School on 2nd March, 1896.

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1902. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1905. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1909. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1926. © Peter Higginbotham

The boys at St Mark's contributed to the daily household chores of the home, which included cooking the breakfast porridge.

Cooking porridge at St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1930. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1915. © Peter Higginbotham

Swimming was a popular activity at the home, with the boys regularly winning prizes for their displays. In 1899, following the installation of a running water supply and improvements in the drainage, it appears that some kind of swimming bath was constructed at the home.

Prize-winning swimmers at St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1910. © Peter Higginbotham

Prize-winning swimmers at St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1911. © Peter Higginbotham

From the early days of the Boy Scouts movement, the home had its own troop.

Boy Scouts troop at St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1912. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's also had its own football team which played matches against local school sides.

St Mark's Home football team, Natland, c.1922. © Peter Higginbotham

St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, c.1931. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1960, St Mark's changed from a boys-only establishment into a mixed home. In 1974, it stopped being a residential home and instead served as a holiday centre for children from other branches.

The home finally closed in 1994. The following year, the property became an independently run treatment centre for children from difficult backgrounds.

Former St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former St Mark's Home for Boys, Natland, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Records

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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.