Ancestry UK

St Mary's Home, Carlisle, Cumberland

St Mary's Home for Penitents was was opened by the Diocese of Carlisle on 5 Junes 1872. It occupied the former premises of the Caldewgate parish workhouse at the junction of what are now Moorhouse Road and Burgh Road.

Former St Mary's Home for Penitents, Carlisle, 2009. © Peter Higginbotham

The object of the home was the reclamation of 'fallen' girls from the servant class and training them to be able to earn their own living. The home could house up to 30 girls, aged from 17 to 25 years. They were expected to remain two years. Those from outside the diocese were required to pay a fee of £5. In 1892, the establishment admitted 13 inmates from five different counties, with 29 resident in the house at the end of that year.

The home's facilities included a laundry, located behind the main building. Laundry work was part of the inmates' training and also provided an income to support the running of the home.

In 1926, the home moved to new premises at Coledale Hall, 94-96 Newtown Road, Carlisle, and became known as the Carlisle Diocesan Refuge. Up to thirteen 'friendless and fallen' young women could be accommodated.

By 1949, the establishment had become a Mother and Baby Home, providing accommodation for up to ten single mothers and six babies. By then under the management of the Carlisle Diocesan Council for Social and Moral Welfare, an annexe to the property known as the Cottage was used as an After Care Home.

By 1956, the home provided sixteen beds and six cots, while its management body had become the North Cumberland and Carlisle City Social and Moral Welfare Association.

In 1964, provided accommodation for ten mothers and six babies. Mothers entered them between four and six weeks before their confinement, with the length of stay afterwards being flexible. Extra-marital confinement cases were also admitted.

The premises were later used as Health Authority offices but have now been converted to residential use.


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  • Carlisle Archive Centre, Lady Gillford's House, Petteril Bank Road, Carlisle CA1 3AJ. Has various committee minutes, annual reports etc. covering period 1915-72.


  • None identified at present.