St Augustine's Home for Boys, Sevenoaks, Kent

St Augustine's Home for Boys was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1921 in the premises of a former school on St John's Road, Sevenoaks, Kent. It was designated at the time as the 'Peace Thank-Offering Home' marking the end of the First World War. The home was dedicated on November 22nd by the Bishop if Rochester and given the name of St Augustine who 'had brought the Gospel of Peace to the shores of Kent.' There may also be a link between the home and the St Augustine's Home for Boys at Clewer in Berkshire which closed in 1921.

St Augustine's Home for Boys, Sevenoaks, c.1923. © Peter Higginbotham

St Augustine's was one of the Society's largest homes, housing 42 boys aged from 7 to 15. The building was divided into four separate living quarters and dormitories which were named Philip Sydney, Francis Drake, George Herbert, and David Livingstone, along the lines of school 'houses'. The boys could be awarded marks for good work or behaviour, with the sections competing to score the highest tally.

St Augustine's Home for Boys, Sevenoaks, c.1926. © Peter Higginbotham

By 1932, the home had become a 'Special Training Home' for older boys who wished to become military bandsmen. The home's band proved very popular and often performed at local events.

In 1936, in the wake of the Children and Young Persons Act of 1933, the Home Office requested that St Augustine's become an Approved School. Although the change took place, the home was closed in June 1938 and the property was disposed of.

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.