Newcastle Diocesan Home / House of Mercy / St Hilda's Approved School, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland
The Newcastle Diocesan Home was established in 1883 by a local branch of the Ladies' Association for the Care of Friendless Girls together with the Northumberland Society for the protection of Women and Children, the latter presided over by Frances Wilberforce, wife of the Bishop of Newcastle. The home provided girls who were viewed as being in moral danger with accommodation, religious education, and training for employment as domestic servants. The girls would have come via a variety of routes, e.g. referred by clergymen, by other agencies, by their family or friends, or just turned up on the doorstep. A matron, Mrs Davey, was employed by the two groups to run the home, overseen by a Lady Superintendent — probably one of the Association or Society's members.
The Home occupied premises at 6-8 Ravensworth Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne. Number 6 was deployed as a receiving and short-term home, together with a free Registry Office to arrange employment for girls as domestic servants. Number 7 housed as a Training School for the girls and included a laundry which took in washing from local families and generated an income for the home. Number 8 was used as a Ladies' boarding house, allowing the girls to put into practice the household skills they were learning and also generating some income to support the running of the institution.
In 1889, the establishment relocated to the village of Nedderton and its running was handed over to the Waifs and Strays Society. The Ravensworth Terrace premises continued in use for rescue work and as a home for a sisterhood which was being formed under the auspices of the Church Penitentiary Association. The home was then known as the Newcastle Diocesan House of Mercy. The sisterhood was formally dissolved in 1893 although two of its members, Sister Teresa and Sister Hope, continued with the work, subsequently moving to premises at 305 Salter's Road, Gosforth.
In 1935, the Salter's Road premises were being used for preventive work and for 'fallen women' from the diocese. Inmates were expected to remain there for two years.
In 1941, the establishment became a Senior Approved School known as St Hilda's Training School for Girls. The inmates were occupied in domestic training and gardening.
In 1973, the School became a Community Home with Education (CHE) jointly run with Newcastle City Council.
The School closed in the mid-1980s after the City Council withdrew financial support for its operation. In 1988, the site was sold by the Newcastle Diocese and the proceeds used to set up the St Hilda's Trust which makes grants to projects benefitting the lives of children or young people in deprived communities.
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.Nedderton Home only:
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by surname.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by date of birth.
- The Children's Society Records and Archive Centre is at Block A Floor 2, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clement's Road, London, England SE16 4DG (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Files for children admitted to its homes after September 1926 were microfilmed in the 1980s and the originals destroyed. Some post-1926 files had already been damaged or destroyed during a flood. The Society's Post-Adoption and Care Service provides access to records, information, advice, birth record counselling, tracing and intermediary service for people who were in care or adopted through the Society.
- The Society has produced detailed catalogues of its records relating to disabled children, and of records relating to the Children's Union (a fundraising body mostly supported from the contributions of children).
- 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.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- 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.
- 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)
- St Hilda's Trust
- Hidden Lives Revealed — the story of the children who were in the care of The Children's Society in late Victorian and early 20th Century Britain.
- The Children's Society
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.