St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

The St Saviour's Home for Girls grew out of the Shrewsbury Cottage Home, an independently run home for 'little girls who have been led into sin, or are unfitted for reception in ordinary Schools or Training Homes.' The home had been founded in 1882 by Miss Butler and became affiliated to the Waifs and Strays Society in 1897.

After moving to new premises in 1890 at 3 Belle Vue Gardens, Shrewsbury, the home was renamed St Saviour's. It was fully taken over by the Society on January 1st, 1893. The home provided accommodation for 16 girls aged from 7 to 13.

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Belle Vue Gardens, Shrewsbury, c.1893. © Peter Higginbotham

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1893. © Peter Higginbotham

Here is a description of the home from 1893.

St Saviour's Home is on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, in an airy situation. with a bright bit of flower garden in front, and a strip, long enough for games and skipping, at the back. The front door is opened to you by a smiling little maiden, and you find yourself in a tiled hall, into which the ground-floor rooms open. Here to your left is the chapel-room, where Bible classes and family prayers and Scripture lessons are held. There are sacred pictures on the walls, and, as a border round them, are painted the words — Grant that they may have power and strength to have victory." Perhaps they may suggest to the chance visitor a prayer "for those who worship therein," and to whom the conflict with the powers of evil may mean a very real and terrible struggle against every memory and association of their earliest childhood.

You pass to the next room, and there you see the little inmates themselves; it is the kitchen, where much of their work goes on, and commands a vista through the scullery into the laundry, so that you can watch needlework, "washing-up," and laundry work going on. If lessons are going on, you may be shown a sum, or a copy, or those ever-needed performances — patches and darns.

The dining-room looks into the kitchen, with a window which acts as buttery-hatch. It has two tables, which can be "folded up" when games or musical drill, instead of meals, are to take place. There are maps on the wall, and two lists, headed "Our Children"; the first giving the names of all who were admitted to the old cottage Home, and the second those who have joined since S. Saviour's Home was opened, not two years ago. A matron's sitting-room and a small waiting-room complete the ground-floor rooms.

Upstairs the dormitories are bright with red and white quilts on each bed, and over each hangs a card with the occupant's name, a text, and a verse of a hymn alluding to it. Here is one:—

KATE (KATHERINE-PURE).
Blessed are the pure in heart.
Create in me a clean heart:
"Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He."

There are sixteen beds, and it is possible to receive also an "old girl" in an attic upstairs.

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1910. © Peter Higginbotham

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1916. © Peter Higginbotham

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Belle Vue Gardens, Shrewsbury, c.1926. © Peter Higginbotham

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1927. © Peter Higginbotham

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1928. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1929, the increasing unsuitability of the Belle Vue Gardens premises resulted in the home relocating to 'The Hollies', a large house on Sutton Road, Shrewsbury.

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Sutton Road, Shrewsbury, c.1928. © Peter Higginbotham

The new home was opened on July 16th, 1929, by Mrs Sawyer, the wife of the headmaster of Shrewsbury School, standing in for Lady Harlech who was unable to attend. The Bishop of Lichfield dedicated the home, the service beginning with a procession through the garden. The girls of the home later sang a hymn that the home's founder, Miss Butler, had composed for the dedication of the Belle Vue Gardens home in 1890. Music was also provided by the band from the Society's Standon Home for Boys. The Sutton Road house provided accommodation for 26 girls aged from 7 to 16.

Opening of St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1929. © Peter Higginbotham

St Saviour's Home for Girls, Shrewsbury, c.1929. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1941, the older girls were dispersed to other homes and for the next two years a wartime nursery was opened on the premises.

After the war, the home housed then St Saviour's Toddlers' Home which continued in operation until 1949.

The Belle Vue Gardens house no longer exists. The Sutton road site later became a 'welfare home' and a home for the aged. It is now used as a training centre.

Former St Saviour's Home, Sutton Road, Shrewsbury.

Records

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.

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.