St Audrey's Home For Girls, Bedford, Bedfordshire
St Audrey's Home For Girls was established in 1908 by Waifs and Strays Society. Its premises, at 25 St Cuthbert's Street, Bedford, could accommodate 20 girls from the age of 8 upwards. Amongst the first residents were the girls form the Society's home at Mildenhall which was being closed. The official opening of the home was performed by Bishop Hughes (in the absence of the Bishop of Ely, through illness), April 7th, 1908.
In 1914, the home was moved to new premises at 'Woodleigh', 97 Ashburnham Road, Bedford, where up to 30 girls aged from 3 to 15 were housed. The home closed in 1919 when its lease expired.
Research in recent years has shown that during the home's twelve-year existence in Bedford, a total of 99 girls were admitted, of whom 47 were referred by their parents and 28 placed by Boards of Guardians. The youngest child admitted was aged 2 years 8 months. Only two of the girls came from within Bedfordshire, the rest coming from a wide spread of places including Brighton, Bristol, Macclesfield, and the London Boroughs of Hampstead, Plumstead and Kensington. This illustrates the common practice of removing children well away from the undesirable circumstances that had led to their coming into care. (Currie, 1998).
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).
- Currie, Margaret Rosetta Social policy and public health measures in Bedfordshire, within the national context, 1904-1938 (1998, PhD Thesis, University of Luton)
- 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.