Holly Mount Orphanage / School, Tottington, Lancashire

Holly Mount (or Hollymount) at Tottington, near Bury, Lancashire, was built in the 1860s as as a College for Young Gentlemen. It was forced to close in 1885, but three years later the premises were taken over for use as an orphanage and school which primarily received children from poor Roman Catholic families who would otherwise have been brought up in workhouses. The establishment was run by nuns from a Belgian order, the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary.

In 1897, Holly Mount could accommodate up to 216 girls, aged from 4 to 13 years of age, with Boards of Guardians paying 5 shillings a week for each girl they placed. By 1930, the number of girls had risen to 300, aged from 3 to 16, with the weekly charge being 14 shillings. Although Holly Mount appears to have been primarily a girls' establishment, boys were also accommodated.

The original accommodation was in a U-shaped block at the south side of Holly Mount Lane. Further buildings were gradually added including a chapel, infirmary school. The growth in the site is illustrated on the maps below from 1893 and 1929.

Holly Mount Orphanage / School site, Tottington, c.1893.

Holly Mount Orphanage / School site, Tottington, c.1929.

Holly Mount Orphanage from the south, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage from the north, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage chapel, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage infirmary, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage babies' tea party, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

The girls at Holly Mount were taught a range of domestic skill including knitting, dressmaking, lace-making, embroidery, crochet work, baking and jam-making. By 1920, dairy work had also been added and the home by then appeared to have had its own band.

Holly Mount Orphanage sewing room, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage 'Coming Home', Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage gardens, Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Holly Mount Orphanage gardens (detail), Tottington, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

During the First World War, Holly Mount took in wounded soldiers during the First World War. In the Second World War, it housed children evacuated from areas in danger of enemy bombing.

The Orphanage's original block later became an old people's home. After the nuns left Holly Mount in 1992, the block was demolished and most of the other buildings converted to residential use. The former school building is now home to a local primary school.

Holly Mount School, Tottington, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

  • Salford Diocesan Archives, St Augustine's, Grosvenor Square, Manchester M15 6BW. Holds the surviving records for Holly Mount from the early 1900s onwards. The records are currently (June 2015) being extracted into a database which will eventually be accessible at the Archives. At present, database-related enquiries should be made to Anne Marie Bickerdike at Caritas, Salford (email: AM.Bickerdike@caritassalford.org.uk).


  • Conroy, Michael The Holly Mount Story (2007)
  • Slawson, John A Labour of Love — Holly Mount, Tottington: Memories of the Children's Home (1995)
  • None noted at present.