Bersted Home for Boys, Bognor Regis, Sussex
The Bersted Home for Boys was established in around 1890 at Sheepwash Lane (now Hawthorn Road), South Bersted, on the outskirts of Bognor Regis. It could accommodate 40 boys, aged from 8 to 14. From the outset, the home had received boys paid for by the Waifs and Strays Society and was taken over by the Society in 1892. In 1893, the home was also certified to accommodate boys placed by the workhouse authorities.
The extensive premises had previously been a builder's house and yard, and the old workshops were converted into school rooms, play rooms, store rooms and dormitories. As the numbers of children increased, two adjoining cottages were rented and a dining hall and drill hall erected, the seating up to 400 people at an entertainment.
Although the home had its own school rooms, some of the boys attended the local National School. A large gymnasium also provided plenty of scope for physical pursuits and military-style drill.
The home had its own military band which gave performances at local events.
The daily routine at the home began each day except Sunday with bread and a large basin of porridge. The boys had a meat dinner every other day, with plenty of vegetables from the home's garden. Fruit puddings were served on Sunday, with cake for supper.
The old buildings proved increasingly inadequate for the growing number of boys and in 1907 the home moved to a larger property at Sampford Peverell, near Tiverton.
The Bersted premises were later occupied a laundry. The buildings have since been demolished and Fletcher Way now covers the site.
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.