All Saints' Home for Boys, Ashdon, Saffron Waldon, Essex
The All Saints' Home for Boys was established in 1885 by the Waifs and Strays Society at Ashdon, near Saffron Waldon. The home, which was the Society's first boys' home, was founded by the Rector of Ashdon, the Rev. Henry Barclay Swete who donated a pair of cottages near the village for the purpose. The home could accommodate eight boys up to the age of 8.
In 1891, the home moved to larger, purpose-built premises on Rectory Lane, Ashdon. The cost of the building, some £300, was again paid for by the Rev. Swete who was now Professor of Pastoral Theology at Kings College, Cambridge. The new home, which was officially opened on September 29th, 1890, could house 12 boys, aged from 7 to 10. It was a square building containing a large dining-hall and wash-room, with the boys' dormitory over, a sitting-room for the matron, with her bedroom above, and a kitchen, with a spare room or hospital above.
The first matron of the new home was Mrs Annie Wallis. Her successor, in October, 1895, was 29-year-old Ellen Whitehead who remained in the post until her retirement in 1933.
The home's elevated location meant that it had to take its water from a nearby well. On occasions when this ran dry, water had to be carried up the steep hill from the village. A mains supply was finally connected in 1938. In the same year, a new wing was built which increase the home's accommodation to 24 boys.
The home was shut for major renovations in 1961, then resumed operation from 1964 until its final closure in 1972. In recent times, the property has housed a Buddhist retreat centre.
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.
- 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)
- 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.