Leven And Melville Home for Boys, St Leonards on Sea, Sussex
The Leven And Melville Home for Boys was established by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1909 at 8 Ellenslea Road, St Leonards on Sea. It was named after Lord Leven and Melville, a vigorous supporter of the Society who had previously presented it with the Talbot Manor Home in Bournemouth. At his death in 1906, Lord Leven bequeathed a large sum with which to provide a further residence, resulting in the purchase of the premises at St Leonards. The new Leven And Melville Home was opened on December 13th, 1909, by Lady Leven and Melville, with the dedication ceremony being conducted by the Bishop of Winchester.
The home could accommodate 25 boys aged 6 to 14. The ground floor of the house included a large playroom, the Master and matron's sitting room, and a prayer room. On the first floor were three dormitories, the Master and Matron's bedroom, and a bathroom located above the porch. The attic floor were two further small dormitories, a sick-room, and a staff assistant's room. The home's kitchen, dining room, and a cloakroom were down in the basement of the house. At the back of the home was a large garden where the boys each had their own plot to tend.
Boys from the Home made a significant contribution to the choir at the local church.
The home, like the others run by the Society, held an annual Pound Day when local supporters could donate either one pound in cash or a pound weight of foodstuffs or other goods. The picture below was taken on Pound Day in 1932.
From 1940 to 1944, during the Second World War, the boys were evacuated to Tallentire hall, near Cockermouth. They were then moved to the Dacre House Home at Rock Ferry. The St Leonards home re-opened after the war but closed for good in 1950, with the then residents being transferred to the St Michael's House Home, at Hoar Cross.
The St Leonards property is now a private residence.
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.
- The Children's Society Records and Archives Centre is at Edward Rudolf House, Margery Street, London, WC1X 0JL (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.)
- 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.
- 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
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