Ancestry UK

St Charles' School, Brentwood, Essex

St Charles' School (or Orphanage) for Roman Catholic Boys was established in around 1884 on Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex. It was accredited to operate as a Certified School, allowing it to receive pauper boys, over the age of seven, placed by the Poor Law authorities, who ran the workhouse system.

In 1897, the School could house up to 200 boys aged from 7 upwards, with a payment of 6s. a week. requested. It was then run by the Christian Brothers, in the charge of Brother Arthur Doyle.

St Charles' School site, Brentwood, c.1915.

St Charles School, Brentwood, from the south, early 1900s © Peter Higginbotham

By 1907, the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul managed the School and its intake now included boys from the age of two upwards.

Dining-room interior, St Charles School, Brentwood, c.1910.

The School was closed in 1954 and the site sold to the Home Office. In October 1963, the existing building having been replaced by a collection of modern blocks, the site became an Approved School for boys. In July 1971, the premises were used to house the first of the new Youth Treatment Centres, designed to provide more specialised facilities for dealing with seriously disturbed children than those available in the Community Homes that were then replacing Approved Schools. The Centre closed in 1995, after being hit by a series of problems. In 2002, plans were announced to open a secure training centre on the site.

The buildings no longer exist and the housing of De Paul Way now covers the site.


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  • Waugh, N These, My Little Ones (1911, Sands & Co.)
  • Hyland, Jim Changing Times Changing Needs: A History of the Catholic Children's Society (Westminster) (2009)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Hyland,Jim Yesterday's Answers: Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1993, Whiting and Birch)
  • Millham, S, Bullock, R, and Cherrett, P After Grace — Teeth: a comparative study of the residential experience of boys in Approved Schools (1975, Chaucer Publishing)